Do You Know How
Talk To Your Lover?

Here's a selection of Angelina's Articles from her Love Life column for the East Honolulu Newspaper. Enjoy...

Click on any of the underlined titles you see to read the stories...









The Fatal Addiction: Obsessed with being Right
Seven Tips for Fighting Fair
Is this Relationship Healthy?
What's Underneath Those Chronic Fights?


Beware of Emotional Vampires!

Are you in love with a vampire? Iím not referring to the person who sleeps in a coffin. Iím talking about the kind of people who exhaust and drain you emotionally. These people leave you feeling empty, or out of balance after you interact with them. If you notice that before the encounter with this person, you feel positive, happy and energized, and afterwards you feel as if someone has just robbed you of your energy, you may be dealing with a person who is an "emotional vampire." They pull away your good energy in a variety of ways, usually without even realizing they are doing it.

Recently, Helaine Harris was a guest on our radio program LOVE LIFE. She has written a book called "Are you in Love with a Vampire Healing the Relationship Drain Game." She speaks of four different types of energy vampires and their vampiring characteristics. Do you know anyone who fits these descriptions?

1) The Sexual Energy Vampire this person pulls energy through the sexual act leaving you feeling drained, or used. Your heart is left empty and you feel more lonely than before.

2) The Emotional Energy Vampire these people get you to feel responsible for them. You have to make them feel better, or fix them, comfort them or make them feel safe. They often use guilt to keep you engaged with their needs.

3) The Mental Energy Vampire often occurs at work. They have a way of making you feel inferior or stupid. They set you up to believe they need your help, input or ideas, then when you step up to the plate, they undermine your efforts. They question or judge everything that you do.

4) The Spiritual Energy Vampire they attempt to undermine your personal connection to God. They undermine you using threats or punishment. They constantly make you feel unsafe or on unsteady ground.

Symptoms of Being in a Relationship with an Emotional Vampire: Emotional Vampires love power over others. This gives them the sense of vitality that they crave. They constantly attempt to control their partnerís behavior. They may even become very "helpful" to achieve this. Some even become "caretakers" in order to insure that they will be needed, and so that they can get the "energy fix" that they themselves need. For the "vampired" love becomes synonymous with being pulled on. It feels like love to the "victim," but is it really love or fear of being alone.

Breaking the connection with the emotional vampire feels like death or annihilation. The terror of being lonely is at the heart of this dynamic for both the vampire and their partner. These underlying fears often create "push/pull" dynamics in the relationship where love very quickly becomes hate. The games go back and forth as each alternately struggles to break free and then to make the connection stronger than ever.

These "back and forth" conflicts can make you feel as if you were crazy. Itís the relationship dynamic that is crazy. You must begin the process of healing from these unhealthy patterns. All relationships, even ones involving "emotional vampires" can be healed. The first step is to recognize that you are dealing with a pattern that is not good for you.

Once you see this, you are half way home. Next you must decide to break these patterns by not playing your side of the codependent game. You need to change first! This is how you begin to regain your power. Once you take charge of the relationship, the "drain game" begins to change. You deserve to have a healthy relationship that invigorates you. One that sustains a positive sense of self. One that feels nourishing and uplifting.

You may not necessarily need to change partners, just change the way you play the game!! Good luck and good loving. Let me know how youíre doing!

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Why Women Fall for Bad Boys

"Heís a scoundrel! Heís unpredictable, dishonest, sometimes even downright mean," Katie complained about her boyfriend, then a moment later admitted "and completely irresistible!"

Why does this happen? Why do intelligent, attractive, capable women fall for the "Bad Boys?" Liza a tall, beautiful woman with a great job and a sparkling personality, came to my office in tears "Why do I keep choosing the wrong man?" She has once again fallen in love with a married man. Leilani is in love with a man who canít support himself, and she canít bring herself to leave him. She is caught in a "rescue fantasy," that originated in her relationship with her depressed alcoholic father who she couldnít save. Now, she is drawn to dangerous men who have an extremely seductive fragile side. She is hooked on a man who causes her pain. She wants to save him from his pain, and be rewarded by his undying love.

Tina is having a highly passionate affair with her boss. She takes all kinds of risks and puts up with a roller coaster ride of emotional extremes from this illicit affair with a glamorous and powerful man. She says she wants a "real relationship" but by being with a charming womanizer who will never commit, she doesnít ever realize that it is she who has the fear of intimacy. It is easier to be always wishing and then to blame him for what has always been missing in her life.

Women are fascinated by the "bad boys." They seem to have an erotic edge of danger thatís hard to resist. From the Kennedy men to President Clinton, a host of Hollywood celebrities hold our attention like nobody else. But, obsession with bad boys is curable Ė for those who are ready, willing and able to do the work of letting go of childhood patterns of dysfunctional love.

"Bad Boys break hearts and humiliate women Ė all out of an unconscious desire to prove theyíre men, to get attention, or to get back at mommy," says Dr. Carole Lieberman, a recent guest on our radio program LOVE LIFE, and author of "Bad Boys: Why We Love Them, How to Live With Them, and When to Leave Them." She has identified twelve types of bad boys and her book explains each one.

For example, there is the "Wanton Wolf" (exemplified by Jack Nicholson), a compulsive flirt and womanizer. These men are constantly trying to prove that they are real men by the number of conquests they can make.

Then there is the "Grandiose Dreamer" who may achieve great things in the world, but deep down is terrified of a woman getting too close to him. "Misunderstood and Married" is the type that subconsciously believes he was cheated by his mom and believes he deserves a second (or third!) woman as compensation.

Then there is the "Wounded Poet," like Elvis Presley, usually an artistic type, who presents a hard exterior, but wants to test a woman with a wall of toughness to see if he can get her to see his true "inner brooding soul."

Other types include the "Man of Mystery" who has many secrets, the "Prince of Darkness" (Like O.J. Simpson) who is truly dangerous and several more.

If you are involved in a relationship with a Bad Boy, you have to ask yourself if what you are getting is worth the price you are paying. You may be paying literally, by loaning money, or paying with lost self esteem, or by having your heart broken in a thousand ways every day.

Ask yourself, even if you feel you love him, are you being used? Trust your intuition and take a look at these following signs.


1) He never introduces you to his family.
2) He rarely includes you in activities with his friends.
3) He only calls or comes by when he wants sex, and leaves right afterwards.
4) When you see him, itís always during the week, or when itís convenient for him, never on Saturday night.
5) When he does get together with you, its obvious he hasnít given much thought to his appearance.
6) He wonít take your calls at work.
7) He doesnít acknowledge holidays or occasions like your birthday with a gift.
8) When you want to discuss his behavior, he says, "Itís all in your head."
9) When youíre sick, he doesnít offer to bring you soup, cough syrup, or give you a shoulder to lean on.
10) You never spend the night at his place.

If you are stuck in an unhappy relationship with a Bad Boy, you may need help to get out. You deserve so much better than this! Sometimes you have to let go of imitation love in order to get real love. But thereís nothing like the real thing!
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Clarity For Successful Living

What do you want? This simple question -- dare I say annoyingly simple is your first clue to successful living. If you donít know what you want your chances of getting it are very slim. If you donít know where you are going, how will you ever know if you got there?

The secret of success is to know specifically what you want. I asked a client, Miss "S" what she wanted. She answered, "More money." Does that mean that if she finds a penny on the street she will have reached her goal? After all, if she finds a penny she will have "more money." I think you can see the point about how important it is to have a specific goal.

A specific goal might be something like "I want to have a ten percent income increase within the next three months." This kind of specific goal gives you power because what it does is it forces the next question: "What are you going to do to achieve your goal?" You will absolutely achieve your goals if you have specific answers to these two questions:

1) What do I truly want? and...
2) What (specific actions) will I actually take to achieve this?

Itís simple. That doesnít mean its necessarily easy. Just getting clear about what you want is sometimes a challenge. Is what you think you want really what you want? Is it somebody elseís agenda that you have adopted?

The test to see if what you want (how you answered question number one) is whether you will actually do the actions (what you answered in question number two.)

For example, you want to clean out the garage which has been gathering junk for as long as youíve lived in the house. You want to be able to park the car inside -- but what are you actually willing to do to make it happen?

Are you willing to spend one hour a week on Saturdayís cleaning out one square foot at a time? If the answer is "yes," you will achieve your goal.

It may take you several months, but the sooner you start, the sooner you finish.

The key is to take small but consistent steps toward your goal. Most people would not be successful if they had to clear out the garage in one weekend -- that task might be daunting -- but you will be successful if you break it down into "bite size chunks" of "do-able" behavior and action.

The great thing about small -- and consistent -- actions that you actually take, is that they raise your confidence in your ability to succeed in the long run.

There is nothing like setting yourself a goal and achieving it to raise our self esteem. Most people think that self esteem is the result of how others treat us. The truth is that high self esteem comes from pleasing yourself, from achieving the goals that you really care about.

Dr. Maria Nemeth gave a wonderful workshop I attended recently called "The Heart of Your Money Matters." She offered a powerful definition of success. She said, "Success is doing what you said you would do -- with ease." Itís not the size of the promise (of actions you plan to take) that is important, it is the consistency of your results.

Everyone who has ever set a goal has encountered opposition from within and without. This can be demoralizing. The trick is not to focus on the excuses or obstacles, but only on the goal. Keep you mind babble to a minimum. You either take the action towards your goal or you donít. You either do it -- or you donít. If you adopt this "either I do it or I donít" perspective, you become less involved with the excuses or reasons why you didnít take the action. You spend less time in remorse, and more time in a productive "success mind set" that allows you to keep moving ahead.

You can have what ever you truly want in life. The question is:
What are you willing to do to get it?

I wish you all the success you truly deserve.

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Create the Life You Want!

If you could re-invent yourself this year, what would you become? Are you satisfied with who youíve become? Along with all those other "do-good resolutions" you make, how about adding this one: "I will be more true to myself this year!"

Here are some more that I recommend: "I will listen to that little voice inside that is nudging me to make changes." "I will speak my truth more often especially when it really counts." "I will take more risks even if they are baby steps that get me closer to my dreams!"

Leslie, a client of mine, agreed that these were good resolutions, but sighed when she heard them. "I feel like my whole life needs a tune-up! I donít even know where to begin." She wasnít even sure what she wanted. She had lost sight of her dreams. She just knew that although she was working very hard, her life "wasnít working." It was time to help Leslie recover some of the magic that she had lost.

It was time for her to begin a "creative recovery program." We began by jump starting her imagination because she "had no idea what she wanted to do with her life." I gave her a series of exercises that were designed to wake up her sleeping intuition.

The first one was the "Life Editing Game." It is very powerful, and it will work for you also. Hereís how it works:

The Life Editing Game: Get yourself a journal or notebook devoted to this game. For the next thirty days you are going to write in it everyday, it doesnít matter how much you write, one to three pages is fine. You begin by reflecting on your life and looking at any decision you made. When you find one you want to explore, write it down. Leslie began with her decision about which college to attend. "at age 19 I got accepted to two colleges, and I decided to attend U.H." Then, for the game, she imagines that she had decided upon the other college, in this case it was Berkley. Or she might pretend that she had decided to major in psychology instead of the business major she chose. Then you just write the story of what happened if you chose "the other road." You explore this with large and small decisions, and just "re-edit your life" by playing the scene of your life out with different circumstances. Even small decisions are great for the Life Editing Game.

Leslie remembered one time she was waiting on the 23 floor of an office building and two elevator doors opened at once. Inside one of them was a very handsome man who smiled at her. But in her shyness she chose the empty elevator. What would have happened if she had chosen the one with "Prince Charming?" What if they had met and spent a life together?

You get the idea. Start with situations that actually occurred in your life where you had to make a decision even the passive decision of doing nothing and imagine what would have happened if you had taken a different, or even a braver route.

Leslie was nervous about this exercise at first "Wonít it just depress me to realize I made all the wrong decisions in life?" While it may cause you to feel some feelings of regret for those seemingly "missed opportunities," the exercise has a tremendous benefit in that it gets the imagination going once again.

And this is what you need to create a compelling vision of what you would like to have in your life now. There is a saying, "what the mind can conceive, man can achieve." You need a vision of what you want in order to move toward it. Otherwise you are just going to be pulled by whatever currents are strongest in your midst. This could be the current of fear, insecurity, obligations, other peopleís opinions about you or the world, etc.

You need a strong vision to keep you on your course. If you have lost your vision, one of the most powerful ways to get it back is to regain your ability to imagine. You need to be able to imagine the kind of future you want in order to move toward it. It took Leslie about two months of consistently doing this exercise, but she suddenly remembered a childhood dream to work with horses. Now, that she had a vision, she began formulating a plan.

On the Internet she found a ranch in Idaho that was looking for people and was willing to train. Leslie ran out and bought herself a pair of cowboy boots and sheís moving next month! "Iíve never felt freer!" she said. And Ė even better -- many of her chronic illnesses have "mysteriously" disappeared!

Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge. As children we all have this amazing power of mind, yet we lose access to it through the process of growing up in our world. But the good news is that we can get it back. Sometimes we need help to do this. They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, I believe it takes a tribe to support the artists and creative side of our nature.

Create the life you want!

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Do Something!

So what do you think of your life so far? Pretty good? Good? Lousy? Leaves room for improvement? Most of us have a few things on our list weíd like to change. So what are you waiting for? If you are waiting for something or someone to change you may be waiting a very long time. But if you are ready to jump-start your life, and move toward your goals, hereís my simple suggestion to all your complicated problems.

What is one thing that you could do in the next twenty-four hours that would move you closer to your dreams, to the life you really want to live? It doesnít have to be a huge step. Just do something thatís in alignment with where you want to go. Itís amazing how taking action (small or large) can lift your spirits. It can be very demoralizing to have big dreams and be doing nothing to bring them to life. As Confucious says, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, and one step leads to another. Pretty soon you can even see your goal in sight.

Taking action has another significant effect on improving your circumstances. It strengthens your belief in yourself and your ability to produce the results you desire. Its like resurrecting your faith in yourself which ultimately helps to revive your faith that the universe wants you to succeed.

At first, as you take your first steps toward your goal (or at least the first steps youíve taken in awhile) you may not feel brave or even confident. Do it anyway! Feeling brave or ready is a luxury! Sometimes you just have to take action even though you donít feel ready to do it. The feeling of readiness comes after you take those first steps. It is the reward for stepping up to the plate, not the prerequisite. If you continue to take consistent action towards your goals, you will eventually generate the feeling of confidence. Every positive action step you take raises your self esteem and confidence because you are no longer sitting around waiting and hoping for something magical to happen. You can create your own "magic."

"Everything is possible for him who believes," says the Bible (Mark 9:23). What would it take for you to believe in yourself? Action! You need to take action if you want to get results. Itís a simple formula: No action, no results. Most of us totally underestimate our own abilities to make our lives fulfilling. The truth is you have enormous potential, itís just hibernating. Wake it up! Take it out for a walk! Exercise it!

Whatís stopping you from doing this? Some of you allow crazy thoughts to run your show. Things like; "But what if I just canít." "What if I donít have what it takes" "What if Iím too old" "Itíll never happen anyway, so why try" All of this is just like "mind junk" hanging around and cluttering up your world. If you have to give up some crazy ideas like this do it!

Is this the kind of operating program you want running your brain? Replace these tired out lines with some more encouraging ideas! Youíll feel so much better if you take back control of your own mind.

It is important to be realistic about what you can achieve, but with thoughts like those listed above (and insert your own) you will just be defeated before you even start. Take a moment to be truthful about your situation, and your current resources to change it. But donít stop here. Imagine what you would do if you had just ten percent more confidence in your abilities, skills, talents and inner and outer resources. What action would you take today if you really believed in yourself?

Think about that thatís the one action you need to take. Those running shoe ads had a good point. Just do it! No more excuses!
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Are You Really Listening to Me?

When was the last time you felt really listened to? Every day people hear your words and respond and react, but how often do you feel really heard? When you speak to your family, your friends, co-workers, cashiers, people in stores, do you get the feeling that they really understand what you are saying? Do they recognize your underlying concerns?

Listening is an art. Quality or reflective listening is not a passive process. It really requires a certain presence of mind on the part of the listener. The Chinese character for the verb "to listen" tells us something significant about this skill. The Chinese character is composed of the following characters: "ear," "eyes," "undivided attention," and "heart." There is much more to listening than just a hole in the side of our head where sound tumbles in one side and rolls out the other.

Can we listen with our eyes? Absolutely! Much of the most important pieces of communication are non-verbal, that is they are not delivered through the actual words. The body language -- open or closed -- the tone of voice, the speed of the voice, the intensity and pitch of the voice all give us clues to the underlying emotion and intensity of the speaker. If we donít use our eyes to gather information as the speaker is talking, we will miss all these important clues.

If you are taking the time to listen -- then doesnít the speaker deserve your undivided attention? Do you find your mind wandering as you listen? Are you thinking about what you are going to say next? Are you forming objections or rebuttals in your mind? This takes away energy and focus from what the speaker is actually saying. The chances are high if you are running an "inner track" as they are speaking that you will be interpreting or judging their meaning instead of really receiving the actual truth of what they are saying.

And finally, the last part of the Chinese character for the verb "to listen" is heart. Do you care enough to be fully-present for the speaker? This doesnít mean that you have to agree with them. It just means that you are willing to be open to hear what they have to say.

Does your face and body language show genuine interest? Do you give the person appropriate eye contact? (I say appropriate because different cultures have different expectations about the amount or duration of direct eye-contact.) And most importantly, do you care about really hearing what the speaker is saying?

The power of active and reflective listening is that it goes a long way to resolve conflict. Conflict is a natural part of life. As long as there is more than one human being on this planet, there will be a time when one person wants one thing and the other one wants something else. But -- when person "A" feels really heard and understood by person "B," guaranteed, 50% percent of the problem is handled! You may not believe me at first, but test this out in your own interactions, I think you will agree how powerful this is.

When you really listen to not only the words, but for the underlying concerns or interests of the person -- and let them know that you have heard them, their emotional intensity immediately shifts. Hereís an example: A wife complains to her husband, "You never pick up your clothes! What do you expect me to do, just be your maid?" Iím sure you could imagine any number of responses from the husband that would accelerate the wifeís feelings and lead to an instant argument. But how about this possible response, "Sounds like you feel like I take you for granted..." Can you see how this might make the wife feel really heard? Itís amazing the power of phrases that make the speaker feel really heard and understood.

We all need to be understood. The first step is to really listen -- with the wisdom of the Chinese character -- with your ears, your eyes, your undivided mind, and most importantly your heart!

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* I WANT...I WANT...I WANT... *

I want...I want...I want...

What do you want? In life? In love? If you can answer this question you have at least a chance of getting it. But wanting is a funny thing in our world. As children weíre taught not to want. Or at least not directly, or loudly, or insistently. Nice boys and girls donít ask Ė "thatís too demanding! You should wait until you are offered."

After a dozen or so times of asking for what we want, and not getting it, most of us give up. The problem is, after we stop asking for what we want, we start forgetting what it is we ever wanted. Then we wonder why our lives feel empty. One reason is we havenít a clue what it is that is really important to us. Weíve lost touch with what it is we want and the faith that we deserve to have it.

There are some people who believe that if you have to ask for it, especially in a relationship, then it doesnít count! Your partner should just "magically" know what you need and give it to you, right? "I just feel if I have to ask for attention or affection, and then I get it, itís not real," Marie, one of my married clients complained. The truth is if you ask for it, you have at least a fifty-fifty chance of getting it! If you donít ask, your chances go down to zero.

Then to make matters worse, we are taught by the world around us, that there isnít enough! There isnít enough love "All the good ones are taken," people say. Or they have convinced themselves that there just isnít enough of what ever it is that is important to them -- money, resources, time, fun, etc. What ever it is we really want, we certainly donít believe there is enough of it to go around. And so, the competition begins. The struggle to grab what little of "it" there is. We are even told that competition is good for us, that it makes us better, and that competition is "survival of the fittest" in action. Maybe competition has been valuable in certain areas of your life maybe! But I guarantee you, when it comes to your love life, competition over needs and desires is a disaster!

If you view your relationship as a battleground of competing needs, one of both of are almost guaranteed to lose. You need to cultivate the perspective that healthy relationships involve both people being able to state their needs clearly, and then negotiating a plan that allows both sides to "win" at least some of their core needs. Now, just to be clear, saying what you need is not meant to be a demand. It is also not a guarantee that you will get what you want simply because you want it. Stating what you need, and listening to what your partner needs is simply the beginning. It creates a healthy foundation because both sides know what they want and are able to ask for it.

How many of us have had a conversation that began something like this:

He: "What do you want to do?"
She: "I donít know, what do you want to do?"

Then either nothing happens, or the routine takes over and you do "the same old, same old." This can be frustrating for both partners. It takes a little bit of bravery to recognize what it is that you want, because you might have to face the pain of knowing what you want and then not getting it. Trust me, knowing what you want is worth it! It may sting at first, but it is the beginning of healing.

The day you realize what it is that you want, and declare it out loud to another person, is the day you move one step closer to your heartís desire. This is true even if you donít "get" what you need in that moment. It begins a process where you can begin to take "action steps" toward getting your needs met. The truth is, you are going to live your life one way or the other life is just a whole lot more fun when you are getting your core needs met.

Take a chance! Ask yourself "What do I really want?" And then -- go for it!

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"Am I normal?" As a marriage and family counselor, this is a question I hear all the time. People read magazine surveys of sexual behavior or watch TV and feel like their sex lives are nothing like what they see in the movies or see on TV. In the media and movies, lovers are almost invariably young, beautiful and eager. They have no communication problems, no concerns about birth control or disease, and they have wildly responsive bodies. One kiss and theyíre off to the races! Who could live up to the models we see in the movies?

Television broadcasts (an average of) one sex scene or reference every ten minutes! If an alien, whose only knowledge was gathered from eavesdropping on our media, the alien might conclude "Those wild Earthlings! They have sex every ten minutes!"

Itís no wonder we feel we arenít keeping up with the Jonesís when it comes to sex. Many people respond to those sex surveys in womenís magazines with "what theyíd like to believe is true," rather than what is actually true -- so beware of comparing your life to what you read about otherís lifestyles in sexual surveys!

We may see what kind of car our neighbor drives, or know what school their children attend, but we are really clueless about what other peopleís love lives are like. We donít have accurate, reliable information and so we imagine the grass is greener in our neighborís bedroom. Add to this the pressure most people feel about "doing it," and you have yourself the set-up for feeling "abnormal" or deprived.

What is "normal" is a judgment -- not a fact. Facts can be disproved or refuted, but what is normal is relative. What is "normal" for the Jonesís, may be "abnormal" for the Smiths. I can almost see the weight lifted off a clientís back when he or she finally gets around to explaining the reality of their sexual circumstances and are relieved to find out that they are "normal" "average" "typical" -- and just like about a hundred or so other clients who have the same feelings, circumstances and concerns.

It is a sad fact of our society that most people donít trust their own sexuality. This "am I normal?" burden is a terrible one to carry -- and in 99% of the cases, is unnecessary. The truth is, healthy human sexuality has many sides. As sex therapist Marty Klein called it, "a dark side" -- not a bad side, just a dark one. It is hidden in private fantasies and not very often brought into the light

This "dark side" can scare some people, making them wonder how normal they can be if they have these wild ideas wandering around in their minds. They donít trust themselves with these lusty impulses and desires. While itís true that not all fantasies should see the light of day, many of them can be integrated into a healthy sex life.

How do you know if you and your fantasies are sexually normal? I have two rules, or guidelines which have proved very useful for my clients.
First: If itís between mutually consenting adults -- and brings more pleasure than was there before -- itís a good thing!
Second: Do not do unto others something you wouldnít want done unto you! These two "golden rules" will most likely keep you in the boundaries of healthy, happy sexuality.

In the end the answer to "Am I normal?" is: "You decide!" Understand that healthy sexuality is a vast, complex web of feelings -- both light and dark. This is not dangerous -- this is real life! Realize that "normal" is a judgment call that you are as qualified to make as anyone else (assuming you are not a psychopath!) So make your own call! Give yourself a little room to be sexually who you really are. Commit to expressing your sexuality in life-affirming ways, following the above golden rules. Pretty soon youíll be feeling a whole lot better than normal!!


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The Fatal Addiction: Obsessed with Being Right

The desire to be right is such a strong drive in humans. Sometimes I wonder if there isn't a little control room in the brain that has been there since the dawn of civilization, that is as primal as the fight-or- flight mechanism. It's this "fight to be right" syndrome that has contributed to wars abroad and battles at home. Some of us have it more than others, but all of us have at one time have found ourselves entrencehd in a position hanging on to an argument, or choosing to martyr ourselves in defense of an opinion.

Not only has this fight-to-be-right syndrome caused untold suffering in the world, it is the cause of many arguments between ourselves and those we love. Think back on a recent fight or argument you had with someone. Was there also a determination to win, perhaps at the cost of kindness? Were you willing to use harsh words or a tough tone of voice in defense of your position? Was being right more important than even the point you were making? If you said "yes" to any of these questions, it is a good opportunity to examine your "fight-to-be-right" state of mind.

Here's a little snippet of a conversation tbetween Susie and Mark that shows how easily the desire to be right can take over and blow loving feelings right out the window.

SUSIE: Mark, honey, the sink is stopped up again...
MARK: Again! What did you do? You poured hamburger grease down the drain again, didn't you?
SUSIE: You didn't fix it like I asked you to! I bet you just used a plunger. You didn't really clear the pipes like I asked....
MARK: (interrupting) I told you not to pour grease down the drain! Now you have sink full of greasy dishes! Look at this mess!
SUSIE: Well, if you had just really fixed the drain instead of being lazy and just using a plunger...

By now they are in a full bown argument. Neither Susie or Mark wants to admit that they are wrong -- and so they will fight to the death to prove that they are right. This argument would never even begin if Susie could just say, "You're right, I forgot and poured hamburger grease down the drain again. Would you please help me clear the drain?"

Or if Mark could have said, "You're right. I thought just using the plunger would take care of it, and I hate using those chemicals."

In the heat of the moment, the last thing we want to do is admit we might have made a mistake. But in the long run it is so much easier to just say so and not engage in a "do-or-die" battle to be right.

Try any of these simple four steps the next time you see and argument beginning to heat up. Ask yourself:


These four steps could change the quality of your life permanently. You might find that peace and harmony feel even better than being right. The satisfaction of winning an argument is often short lived. If it wasn't, why would we constantly be driven to repeat the process of proving ourselves right? Being right is like an addictive drug. You always need more of it in order to feel satisfied. But the feeling of peace and harmony that comes from surrendering this primitive drive to be right can lead to a lifetime of joy in your personal relationships.

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"Seven Tips For Fighting Fair"

We all want love in our lives. Some of us don't know how to get it, and some of us have trouble keeping the Love in our love lives. We learn many things in school, but one course they don't teach us is how to love well.

The good news is there are some pracxtical techniques that can help you keep your love alive. Let's start by unloading a few myths about love. First; all is not fair in love and war. Learning how to fight fair when it comes to those day-to-day issues that go hand-in-hand with living and loving together can make all the difference in the world.

Most therapists agree that arguing is a sign of a healthy relationship. The issue is how you fight. Let's sneak a peek at a conversation as Doris comes back from the grocery store and she and Don fall into an old destructive pattern of "The Escalating Argument".

DAN: "You didn't get the half & half again, did you?"

DORIS: Oh! No...I went to get the cleaning and I had to get gas, and I just ran in for a few things, and I..."

Dan doesn't even want to hear her finish. This is not the first time. He starts pulling things out of the grocery bag.

DAN:Why do you always forget my half & half! Look, you got shampoo, and your favorite soda, and your cookies! You're just like your mother; only thinking of herself!!

DORIS: I didn't know you were out of half & half. Why do you always expect me to read your mind?! I picked up your cleaning, didn't I?! If you hadn't left the tank empty... like you always do... I would have had a few dollars left!

Doris opens the freezer and sees the ice cream is all gone. She steams.
DORIS: Why do you always finish the ice cream?! You never once think of replacing it! Talk about selfish -- buster, you wrote the book!!

Instant escalation. Doris and Dan are now in a major argument. They've long forgotten about the half & half and a simple solution to that specific problem. They are knee-deep in every issue of their relationship and about to ruin their weekend.
Doris and Dan could use these...


* FOUR: WHENEVER YOU GENERALIZE BY USING WORDS LIKE, "You always...You never ...Why do you...Why can't you... You should do it this way...You shouldn't..."
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Is this Relationship Healthy?

Did anyone ever tell you the rules of the Game of Love? I hope not, because there are no rules. The good news is that there are some clues for finding and creating successful, passionate and permanent partnerships.


Even the very first date leaves many clues which many of us overlook in the blush of enthusiasm about getting together. Was it easy or difficult to set up the first date? If it was difficult to get a commitment or to find a free slot of time, chances are high the person has commitment challenges, ambivalent feelings, or just too many pulls in their life. Are promises broken in the first few weeks? Are you put down in front of others? Do you find your date trying to control your behavior or yourc choices in life?

Alice shrugged off a little comment Tom made after they had been dating for just one month. "You take too many vitamins," he said, "You'd never get me to swallow all those pills." This seemingly small difference in health-styles later turned into fights about restaurant choices. Soon Alice began giving up her commitment to her own body's needs. Then she started missing her exercise classes to be available for Tom's schedule. She gained thirty pounds in her eight month relationship with Tom. Looking back she can see how significant that early comment was.


Physical intimacy should never be coerced. Does your partner respect the time it takes for you to be ready for physical intimacy? How about frequency? Are you in sync with each other's desires? If not, how do you handle these different desires? Here's where the Art of Communication comes in. If you can't talk about the differences in your love-styles, and find win-win compromises, these problems will only accelerate. Often in relationships one person wants more sex than the other. In a healthy relationship these issues are discussed and solutiopns that acknowledge the needs of both people are found.


Being good friends, wanting to be with each other and share and do things together is a symptom of a healthy, long-term relationship. Good friendships are built over time, but you can deepen the friendship by creating more intimacy. To create more intimacy you need to share more of yourself, your true feelings. Take a risk with your partner and tell him or her something that is deep inside your heart. The more you both share, the stronger the bonds of togetherness are woven.


This is such a fundamental issue that we often overlook it. Does your partner enhance your sense of well-being? Do you feel better, happier, about yourself? Or do you feel drained? Less good about yourself? That is a symptom of a toxic relationship. Tony described his relationship with Julieta; "In the beginning I felt like I was on cloud nine. I couldn't believe such a gorgeous girl would be interested in me. But after a few months, I felt like nothing I did was right. She was always criticizing little things, like what I wore, the kind of car I drove, the restaurants I chose. I began to feel beaten up after every date."With her constant critical comments, his self-esteem nosedived and finally out of his last remnant of self-respect, he broke it off.

Healthy relationships bring out the best in us. If you're looking for long-lasting love, follow some of these proven clues for long-term happiness. Good luck! Remember, you really do deserve to have happiness and lasting love.
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What's Underneath Those Chronic Fights?

I have a saying, "If love was easy -- everyone would do it!" It's the one thing we all say we want in our lives, but it's easier said than done! In the honeymoon phase of new romance, most of us don't need to consult the instruction manual. But when it comes to long-term relationships, most of us are like old VCR's flashing 12:00 endlessly. Ask any couple who has been together for more than a year and, (if they are honest,) they'll admit there are some potholes in the road of love. We know where they are and we hit them every time.

In relationship terms, they are the chronic arguments that just don't seem to go away. If you've ever found yourself in one of these stalemate situations,, there are a couple of tips that can lead you back to smooth, paved roads. The first tip is to ask yourself,

"Is the thing that we're arguing about really the issue at all?"

This simple question can save you years of going down the same bumpy roads.

Let's peek in as Rocky and Tina think they are talking to each other, but are really talking ateach other.

TINA: My sister's husband is taking her to Las Vegas.

ROCKY: He loves to throw away money. That's why your sister is always mooching off you.

TINA: But at least he takes special time to be with her. HE takes her onnice vacations, they see shows...

ROCKY: The guy is a real deadbeat! Every time he scores one real estate deal, he blows it all -- to compensate for all the times he hasn't had two cents to rub together.

TINA: At least he wants to rub something together.

ROCKY: Oh! And what's that supposed to mean?

TINA: You're about as romantic as a wet rug!

If this scene wasn't so painful to the people in it, it would be funny. It's like one of those games, "Find out how many issues are hidden (and not so hidden) in Rocky and Tina's argument." There are at least seven different issues bothering them. Some are said outright, some are implied, but you can imagine how difficult it is to get to the bottom of any one of them when they are all lumped together and hurled at the high speed of a typical argument.

There are a lot of myths about arguing, like the one about, "Nice girls don't get angry" or "Real men don't give in." Or that anger ignored will simply go away. Or that happy couples don't argue. Ask yourself,

"What are my attitudes about arguing?" Do these beliefs help you or get in the way when it comes to trying to resolve issues in the relationship?

It's important to remember that the issue that you think you're upset about may not be the issue at all. For instance, here are some common arguments that appear to be about one issue but may truly be about another issue entirely. Your list maybe different, but these are some ideas to help you get out of the rut of unproductive arguments.

* Arguing about MONEY is rarely about money. It's about POWER issues.

* Arguing about SEX is rarely about sexuality. It's about INTIMACY.

* Arguing about household CHORES is rarely about chores. Its about FAIRNESS.

* Arguing about the KIDS is rarely about the kids. It's about CONTROL.

* Arguing about JEALOUSY is rarely about fidelity. It's about MATURITY.

* Arguing about WORK is rarely about the work. It's about TIME.

* Arguing about RELATIVES is rarely about them. It's about EXPECTATIONS.

Explore your own chronic arguments and find out what's really underlying the issues for your self and your partner. If we're ever going to learn how to fight fair, we have to start by talking about the real issues that are bothering us. And most importantly,

Keep on lovin'!
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