long term relationships

An Accurate History of Marriage?

I spend lots of time in sessions talking with folks who wonder why some of the most common ways we do committed relationships doesn’t work for them.

Why do we do marriage for love, and what is love anyway? What happens when love changes over time?

And why do we split household tasks the way we do? How can we create a more egalitarian breakdown than whatever our families modeled? How do we keep equality erotic?

How can we break out of these normative partnerships?

How do we build something intentional instead of defaulting to practices we know don’t work?

One of the first steps in intentional change is growing awareness, and WOW do I have a great resource for you this week. Hidden Brain, by Shankar Vedantam, recently covered the history of marriage and it is FULL of great information about how we ended up with many of the cultural norms about marriage that we currently practice.

Taking a closer look at the ways we practice love and commitment, the practices we consider “normal” helps us use discernment about if and when we want to choose them today.

Listen here:

And let me know what you think. How does knowing this history change what you want to practice? How does it affirm the practices you’ve already chosen? Which parts of this hostory apply to your relationship experiences?


Relationship Tips: Get Their Attention

Communication Patterns in Successful Relationships

Loads of research has been done on the behaviors of successful couples and one of trend holds true: satisfied couples in happy relationships are more likely to bid for attention in a few key ways.

Read on to add these skills in your relationships.

Bids for Attention

We bid for each other's attention all the time.  We do this by gesturing, making eye contact, initiating affection, making a joke, pointing out something.  

For example I might turn to my sweetheart and say, "I really like your shirt."

Successful couples bid more frequently. But there is a second part of bidding that keeps them in a loop of communicating with kindness.  

Receiving Bids From Your Partner

When someone bids for attention we have four real options in our response.  I will give you examples for each.

Warm:  

"Thanks for noticing my shirt babe."  This is a kind or friendly response.  It invites more interaction.

Neutral:

"Oh." This isn't a kind or unkind response.  It doesn't invite more communication or connection, but it doesn't overtly harm the relationship.  However, over time it can divide a couple if it is the only response given.  

Cold:

"Why are you talking about my shirt?!?"  This might be an angry, defensive, or judgmental response.  This response doesn't invite more positive interaction and often leads to disconnection and conflict.  

Often we think this is the most problematic response- but when this response is handled respectfully couples can still grow.  

Non-response:

This is the most detrimental to the relationship.  When someone doesn't respond we feel ignored and we are far less likely to continue bidding for our partner's attention.  This gap in responses starts growing distance between people.

We fill in the gap with our assumptions, resentments and judgments and distance grows.  But sometimes our partner has innocently missed the bid- maybe they simply didn't hear us.  They don't even know how we've been hurt- and aren't able to effectively repair the missed bid. 

Your relationship challenge:

Notice the bids for interaction this week and work to respond with warmth as often as possible.  Notice how it shifts your relationship's energy.   

 


Healthy Relationships | Couples Therapist | Sex Therapist

Gina Senarighi has been supporting loving couples and healthy teams for nearly twenty years. As a former couples therapist turned retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author she's transformed partnerships, leaders and communication strategy all over the world.  

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow. 

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.

Being a supportive partner

meaningful support.jpgsupportive relationships \ support and trust in marriage | how to be supportive

Giving and receiving meaningful support is essential to lasting loving relationships.

Most relationships start out strong, but as time passes fewer and fewer people say they get the support they need from their partner.

The word “support” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  So one way to get more of the love and support you want is to clarify both your request and what you can offer.

Consider the six central themes of support here and ask yourself what you’re really looking for when you ask for help in situations with your sweetie.  You can use the examples here to get clearer with your partner. 

Ask yourself “What does meaningful support look like to me in this situation?” 

Or ask them, “What can I do to show you support in this situation?”

The clearer you become in your request, and in clarifying your partner’s requests, the better equipped you are to meet each other’s needs.

Here are a few more reflection questions to help you get clear. Take a moment to write out your thoughts on each to help you get clear before making requests of your partner.

  • What has meaningful support looked like in the past, in friendships and my family?
  • What actions would be most helpful? What could my partner do to make my experience easier?
  • When do I feel especially cared for in this partnership? What can I apply from that experience to this one? 
  • When do I feel respected in this relationship? What behaviors from my partner foster that feeling?
  • When do I feel most reassured and grounded in this partnership? Are there elements of that experience I would like in this situation?

I created a worksheet to help you dive deeper into this work and get even more clear.  Enter your information below to download it and get access to my full relationship tool library.

Name *
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Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

polyamory coach | open relationship counselor | nonmonogamy
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • shift stuck communication & codependent relationship patterns

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online and in Portland, Oregon. Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Trust in Relationships: Giving the Benefit of the Doubt

trust in relationships | trust and nonmonogamy | trust in polyamory

At dinner parties, hair salons, on airplanes, and grocery lines people LOVE talking about what I do for a living.

They always ask how I know if a couple needs help.  Like, how do I know when they REALLY need to see a counselor.  Everyone (I mean EVERYONE) asks this.  

One easy way to read the strength of a couple is to notice how present trust is this:

Can you give them the benefit of the doubt?

Giving someone the benefit of the doubt means you have a general baseline of goodwill and trust. 

Couples with a generosity of trust are better equipped to stay connected through tough times and handle conflict with less intensity.

Here are a fre examples of how the benefit of the doubt might show up.  Notice if any of these resonate for you:

You're able to hear a short tone in their voice and think "they don't mean to be short, they've probably had a hard day."

You ask your partner for help in the kitchen and don't get a response. You think "I bet they didn't hear me." 

They're late to arrive and before getting upset you think they must be stuck in traffic, or something important must have come up.

Bottom line: before taking something personally, jumping to negative conclusions, or getting defensive, you assume your partner has your best intentions at heart.

This generosity of trust will carry you through challenges unlike any other relationship skill. 

If those aren't present for you, it doesn't mean you have to end things, but we've got work to do. Perhaps trust has been broken in this relationship or others from your past and there's room for resolution. 

There are plenty of reasons this happens in relationships- but it's important to get out of this pattern sooner rather than later. Come in for a free consultation to talk about supporting your relationships health.


Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

Gina2018Headshot.jpgpolyamory coach | open relationship coach | open marriage coach
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • shift stuck communication & codependent relationship patterns

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online and in Portland, Oregon. Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

How to Rebuild Trust in Relationships

TRUST IN RELATIONSHIPS | OPEN RELATIONSHIPS COACH

If you're facing trust issues in your relationship you're not alone.  Most of us are never taught how to be trustworthy (I mean more than being honest) or to repair trust with others.  So almost every relationship has a few trust issues.  

So today I wanted to share one of my favorite teachings on trust and a few tools to build trust in your own relationship.  

Are you in?

Brene Brown has been researching resilience in strong relationships for a long time, and in this video, she gives the main ingredients to cook up of trust in any partnership. 

She makes her research findings super easy to understand and apply to your daily life with all her vibrant examples and stories.  Check it out below. 

Then read on for reflection to share with your partner.

Key Ingredients for Trust in Relationships:

According to Brene there are seven main ingredients t build trust in relationships.  They are:

Boundaries - I will honor your boundaries and you respect mine

Notice the ways each of you may push on or pressure the other when they set a boundary.  Notice how you might pressure or push yourself to override your boundaries. 

Are there ways you could each be more respectful of each other and your own boundaries in this relationship?  (give specific examples)

Reliability - I do what I say I will do, and you do too.

Notice the ways you fail to follow through on promises.  How could you do a better job walking your talk with your partner and with yourself? 

Are there promises you still need to follow through on?  How can you hold yourself accountable for meeting them?  Are there some you can no longer meet?  How can you take responsibility for letting your partner down with those and be more aware (not to overpromise) in the future?

Accountability - I can own, apologize for, and remedy the hurts I cause, and I know you will do the same.

Are there apologies you're still waiting for in your relationship?  Can you imagine the ones your partner might be waiting for? Make a list and develop suggestions for how you'll handle each situation differently in the future.  Share it with your sweetie.

Vault - I trust you will hold what I say in confidence, and we each do this for others as well.

Think about the privacy boundaries you have between you.  Are there things you expect neither of you will share with others?  Think about the stories, traumas, reactions, and mistakes you've shared.  Is there anything you want to be kept just between you two?  How can you clearly state those boundaries so your partner can be sure they're a solid vault?

Integrity - I know we will both act with integrity, doing what is right instead of what is easy.

Think back over your time together.  How and when has each of you taken the high road?  Take a moment to recognize the ways you've each acted with integrity in the time you've known each other.

Then ask, how can I support you in doing what's right instead of what's easy moving forward?  What does meaningful support look like in this partnership?

Non-Judgment - I can fall apart, ask for help, and struggle without worrying about losing you (and you can with me too).

This one is a hard one- and it is so important.  Relationships with space for mistake-making and repair last longer than those without.  Take time to think about the times you've really shown up for one another in times of struggle.  What does meaningful support look like to each of you in those moments?  How do you know when each other in struggling?  How do you know your sweetheart is really there for you?  How do you want to be supported in future struggles?

Generosity - My default assumption is that you have the best intentions at heart- even when things get sticky.

Finally, this is the core of trust.  Can I give you the benefit of the doubt in moments of hardship?  How can I work to believe you would never hurt me?  How can I better communicate with my actions that I would never intend to hurt you?  

If you get stuck talking through these with a partner give me a call, I'd love to help you.


Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

TRUST IN RELATIONSHIPS | OPEN RELATIONSHIPS COACH
  • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • resolve sexual dysfunction & disconnect
  • change communication & codependent patterns
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Ten Simple Steps to Be a Better Partner

how to be a better partner.jpg

Staying in love long-term takes intentional action every day.  It doesn't have to take a lot of work, but by keeping these things in mind you'll be a dream partner to your sweetie(s).

Apologize

Strong relationships are based on trust and accountability.  Being a great partner means owning when you've hurt someone, taking accountability, and moving forward.  Try apologizing with more clarity next time (here are a few tips).

Breathe Before Responding

Most conflicts could be resolved if we just slowed down and thought things through before reacting.  Take a breath before you respond from now moving forward and notice what shifts between you.

Take Care of Yourself

If you aren't taking care of yourself you can't properly take care of your love.  Period.  Prioritize your self-care as a means to nourish your relationship.  

Make Their Day

Stop and ask yourself, what one thing could bring joy or ease to my sweethearts day- and then do it.  Maybe it's a love note, a clean house, or a special song no matter what it is we all like to enjoy a special treat once in a while.  Surprise them with something new.

Show Affection

Not all communication is verbal- having strong kinesthetic communication strengthens relationships too.  Ask your partner what their favorite kind of affection is, and then follow up by doing it.  

Think Kind Thoughts

Resentment likes to build up even without our partners' help.  Notice when you start dwelling on negative thoughts, criticisms, or complaints you have about your partner and force yourself to think nice thoughts for each negative thought you're holding.

Consider their Point of View

When you're in conflict make sure you take your partner's feelings and ideas into consideration.  Couples who can perspective-take stay together longer- and experience greater sense of being "heard".    

Compliment Them

Often as a relationship grows we forget to tell our partners the things we love about them- specifically, in person, and with words.  Take the five seconds to nourish your relationship right now- just tell them why you love them.

Share Gratitude Openly

Strong couples share genuine appreciation and gratitude regularly.  Start a daily gratitude practice and share something you're grateful for to help you stay close.  I've asked clients to practice gratitude for years and those who have experienced greater success in our work together.

I hope these suggestions help you create a partnership you love.  Let me know if you'd like help reinforcing your connection.  I'm always here to help!


be a better partner | how to do relationships well

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

  • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • resolve sexual dysfunction & disconnect
  • change communication & codependent patterns
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

Listen to a Couples Session After Infidelity

after infidelity | after an affair | online couples counseling | online marriage therapist 

Choosing to turn to a stranger in a time of pain is really a courageous act.  Often it's difficult to imagine what talking to a professional might feel like.  This recording is a really powerful session from my mentor, Esther Perel, helping a couple work on coming together after an affair.  

It's a pretty intense listen, but if you're curious about talking with a helping professional yourself, or if you're struggling to come together after infidelity this recording may be helpful to you.

Listen here: 


Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

after infidelity | after an affair | online couples counseling | online marriage therapist
  • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • resolve sexual dysfunction & disconnect
  • change communication & codependent patterns
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

A Month of Kindness for Your Relationship

So many incredible couples reach out to me to help them reconnect with each other.  While there are lots of ways to get there, starting on the path of reconnection can be easier than you think.

The biggest challenge is shifting your patterns to take tiny daily actions that move you towards more meaningful connection in the smallest of ways.  Most long-term couples need a reminder and a serious commitment to change in order to re-establish these smallest connections.  

So I created a little calendar to help you two commit to daily action.  Click the image to download a copy to give it a try this month.  

As always, if you'd like help nurturing the connection between you, I'm happy to support you. Give me a call. 

Seven Elements of Trust

Y'all know I'm a HUGE Brene' Brown fan.  Here's a helpful graphic for you all about identifying the elements of trust in your partnership.  If you want help building (or rebuilding) trust give me a call, I'm here for you!

Elements of Trust PDF Brene Brown Worksheet - Uncommon Love - 

The Ingredients for Trust

TRUST IN RELATIONSHIPS | OPEN RELATIONSHIPS COACH

This is one of the best explanations of trust I have EVER seen.  It is worth the twenty minutes to sit and watch and then talk it through with someone you love. 

Brene Brown has been researching resilience in courageous individuals and strong relationships for many years now, and in this talk she outlines the key ingredients of trust in relationships.  With plenty of juicy stories and examples she makes her research findings super easy to understand and apply to your daily life.

I'll including some reflection questions to guide your post-video self-work (journaling) and couples work (shared reflection) below.  Let me know if you'd like to talk through trust building with me 1:1 (schedule a free call right here).

Key Ingredients for Trust in Relationships:

Boundaries - I honor your boundaries and you respect mine

Reliability - I do what I say I will do, and you do too.

Accountability - I can own, apologize for, and remedy the hurts I cause, and I know you will do the same.

Vault - I trust you will hold what I say in confidence, and we each do this for others as well.

Integrity - I know we will both act with integrity, doing what is right instead of what is easy.

Non-Judgment - I can fall apart, ask for help, and struggle without worrying about losing you (and you can with me too).

Generosity - My default assumption is that you have the best intentions at heart- even when things get sticky.

Questions for Self-Reflection

  • How can I better honor my own boundaries?  
  • Where can I practice better reliability in my agreements with myself?
  • Are there any unresolved inner conflicts I need to forgive myself for?  How can I work to resolve those?
  • Where can I be more discerning about sharing tender parts of myself with others?  
  • How would things be different for me if I did what was right instead of what was easy?
  • How can I be more gentle with myself when I need help from others? 
  • How can I care for myself (like a good friend would) when I make mistakes?
  • How would my life be different if I cultivated greater self-compassion?

Shared Reflection (for You and Someone You Care for)

  • How could we be more clear about our expectations with each other?
  • What does meaningful support look like in this partnership?
  • Are there any unresolved conflicts between us I need to apologize for?  How can I work to own and resolve those?
  • How can we support each other in doing what is right instead of what is easy?
  • How can we be more tender with each other when we make mistakes?

Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

TRUST IN RELATIONSHIPS | OPEN RELATIONSHIPS COACH
  • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
  • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
  • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
  • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
  • resolve sexual dysfunction & disconnect
  • change communication & codependent patterns
  • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.