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  • Do you and your partner struggle with jealousy? Here are some of the top causes for jealousy.

    Do you ever find yourself feeling jealous in your relationship? If so, you’re not alone.  Jealousy can be a common issue in relationships, but it’s important to deal with it in a healthy way.  Let’s discuss some common reasons for jealousy and some helpful tips for overcoming it in your relationship.

    At its core, jealousy is a feeling of fear. Whether it’s the fear of losing a loved one, the fear of losing one’s status in a social hierarchy, or simply the fear of being alone, jealousy arises out of some deep-seated anxieties and insecurities. This can be seen most clearly in situations that involve rivalry or competition. For example, if you witness a friend achieving great success in their career while your own career is floundering, you may begin to feel jealous. This is not because you necessarily want to steal their thunder; rather, it stems from insecurities and uncertainties about where you fit into the world.  This is normal and based on our evolution as humans.  

    At the root of most jealousy in relationships specifically, is the fear of infidelity and abandonment. Whether we are conscious of it or not, many of us have a deep-seated belief that our partner will eventually abandon us, or that they are secretly unfaithful to us. This sense of insecurity can lead to feelings of jealousy, as we are constantly on the lookout for evidence that our fears are justified.

    Part of what makes jealousy so difficult to manage is that it tends to be based on irrational fears and assumptions. For example, if we believe that our partner will leave us for someone else, then we may misinterpret their positive attention towards someone else as a sign that they are about to leave us for good. Furthermore, because jealousy arises from deeply rooted survival instincts, it can be extremely difficult to overcome without an objective third party.

    In order to overcome jealousy and cultivate greater confidence and self-assurance, we must first identify the underlying fears that fuel these feelings. Once we are aware of our fears, we can learn to manage them and replace feelings of jealousy with more positive attitudes towards ourselves and others. In this way, we can ultimately move past our feelings of fear and learn to thrive despite any perceived threats to our relationship.

    Jealousy can arise even in seemingly healthy relationships, and it can be especially challenging when both partners are experiencing these feelings simultaneously. The key to overcoming romantic jealousy is to first recognize what is causing it and then work together as a couple to address those underlying issues. This might involve going through relationship counseling together or learning more about each other’s needs and insecurities. 

    Whether we are aware of them or not, these fears have a profound impact on both our thoughts and our behaviors. They can slowly erode the trust and intimacy we feel with our partner, leaving us feeling disconnected and unhappy. In order to overcome these fears, we must first understand where they come from. Only by putting in the time and effort required to explore ourselves honestly and openly can we begin to chip away at the walls that prevent us from growing together as a couple. With patience and diligence, we can transform negative fear-based patterns into healthier ones that strengthen rather than weaken our relationships. In the end, it is up to each individual to decide whether or not they truly want their relationship to thrive; but by taking control of your fears and working through them together as a team, you can create a stronger connection with your partner that will allow your relationship to flourish for many years to come.

  • Do you and your partner struggle with trusting one another? Here are some tips for strengthening trust.

    If you and your partner are struggling with trust in your relationship, you’re not alone. Trust is one of the most important foundations of any relationship, and it can be difficult to rebuild if it’s been damaged. However, there are steps you can take to improve trust in your relationship and improve communication. The key ingredient to rebuilding trust is strengthening integrity, but how do we do this? This can be tricky to determine, as it can be hard to know what integrity really means. Let’s explore this concept further. What does integrity mean to you within your relationship? And how do you ensure that both you and your partner are living with integrity?

    Keeping Your Word

    Keeping your word is a key element of any healthy relationship. When we make a commitment to someone, we are creating an agreement that we will act in a certain way. This could be something as simple as keeping a date night free each week, or ensuring that you pick up dinner on your way home. Whatever the agreement may be, it is important that you follow through with your word. When we don’t, it sends the message that our word is not reliable. Over time, this can erode trust and damage the integrity of the relationship. In contrast, when you keep your word, you build trust and respect, both essential ingredients for any lasting relationship.

    Being On Time 

    Being on time is an important way of demonstrating importance to others. When we are punctual, we are sending the message that we value the time of those we are meeting with and that we are willing to make the effort to be where we are supposed to be. Oftentimes we try to be punctual for work, but this act of respect is an important foundation for any kind of relationship, including romantic ones. It gives our partner a sense that we care about them and value their time, and it shows that we can be counted on to follow through on our commitments and that we take the relationship seriously. When we make a habit of being on time, we are building integrity and creating an atmosphere of trust.

    Honest Communication 

    When it comes to communication, honesty is always the best policy. This is especially true in relationships, where open and honest communication is essential for building trust and maintaining a strong connection. Honesty requires vulnerability and a willingness to be open about your thoughts and feelings, even when it isn’t easy. But the effort is worth it, as honest communication can help you to build a more intimate and fulfilling relationship with your partner. Furthermore, honest communication is the foundation of trust, which is essential for any relationship to thrive. So if you want to build a strong and lasting relationship, start by being honest with your partner. It may not be easy, but it’s the first step towards building a foundation of trust and integrity.  To learn powerful but easy to learn tools for honest communication take the RDP Couples Communication Course.  The course breaks down ways of communicating that will teach you how to communicate difficult things without creating conflict.  I hope this article was helpful and that you are able to implement something from it to create more trust and happiness in your relationship.

  • Do you think learning communication skills always feels like work? Here is a way to make learning communication skills fun!

    What if developing communication skills in a relationship felt easeful, even leading to a sense of empowerment over time?  Sadly, this is not usually the case and here’s why.  Couples often don’t look for tools until repeated conflict arises.  By the time dissatisfaction begins to be expressed, there is already a certain amount of distress built up in each person and the relationship. Obviously when we feel stressed, hurt, fearful, or angry it can be more difficult to find our internal balance and curiosity, making learning more challenging.  

    Why can it be more challenging to learn new tools during upsets?

    When a sense of disconnection happens between people this creates activation in the brain and nervous system releasing stress chemicals. This can bring up defensive survival patterns from childhood. It can take some time and work to get to a more neutral baseline and be able to absorb the new information and structure of the communication tool being learned. This is a normal part of the process.  However, when we connect positive feelings associated with the practice as well as with our partner, it is much easier for our brain to default to what has yielded pleasurable results.  This helps us take on the new tool much more quickly and easefully.  Read on to discover how to make learning fun and how making learning fun will encourage your brain to grow.

    How can active listening using positive experiences make learning fun? 

    Healthy relationships are a large determining factor in our overall quality of life. A game changer, that not many know about, is sharing positive experiences using a tool like active listening (as taught in Module 1 of the RDP Couples Communication Course). The positive experiences can be individual memories, past shared memories with your partner, or even dreams of the future. Mirror neurons get activated transmitting the joy, excitement, expansion, etc. being expressed.  This creates feel-good chemicals, like endorphins and oxytocin, which are shown to support physical health, as well as strengthen the bond between couples. We, or more specifically our brain begins to associate practicing with pleasure! Active listening is a deceptively simple yet powerful tool for intimacy.

    Why does doing something fun encourage neuroplasticity? 

    Another benefit of having fun when practicing communication skills is that when challenges do come up, and they will, we more readily choose, with a sense of confidence, to implement our new tools/behaviors instead of old reactive patterns. This process is called neuroplasticity. The brain literally begins to carve out new pathways associated with positive pleasurable feelings while weakening the ones that no longer serve us. It is truly exciting news that our brains remain plastic all our lives so there is always room for growth and deeper satisfaction with our partnerships. 

    A tip for new couples:  

    Couples often wait until conflict arises to learn new communication skills.  Sometimes they don’t come into couples counseling until years down the road.  However, the beginning of a relationship is also a great time to do this.  During this time, things are usually going pretty well.  The so-called “honeymoon period” in a new relationship can be a great time to set the foundation for good communication that can be relied upon when issues inevitably surface. When we are in this first phase of a relationship there is usually a lot of communication going on as we desire to discover more about each other, therefore bringing in new practices to enhance mutual understanding aligns with the positive emotions already engaged. It is a healthy aspect of human nature to want to repeat and practice what truly feels good.

    Final thoughts
    Good communication skills are a doorway into cultivating safety, vulnerability, and intimacy between couples. In time, and with practice, our skills incorporate naturally into a way of being.  Eventually, our positive communication skills become our default patterning.  We move toward each other’s inner worlds with a sense of openness, curiosity, and joy. We begin to experientially know that as we make space for genuine connection it feels good.  Research has been showing that playfulness increases the level of neural plasticity of our brains! So, let’s have fun getting to know ourselves and our partners better.

  • Are the things that you and your partner fight about considered normal? Here are the top 3 things couples fight about

    I’ve been a couples counselor for over 12 years and seen more than a thousand couples.  In this time I’ve been able to see what are the most common things couples fight about.  On the surface, the most common things that people fight about are finances, child rearing, sex, etc.  However, the deeper reason for these arguments lies below the surface.

    Ideally, people have healthy role modeling from their parents on how to recognize their needs, listen to others, and productively express their thoughts and emotions. Many people however, developed some patterns and internalized belief structures that were not very helpful.  As adults, these patterns and belief structures can underlie many of the upsets that occur.  These old patterns and belief structures ignite the fire, while unmet needs act as the fuel that perpetuates them.  The following will discuss the top three things that couples fight about: 

    1) Not feeling heard

    It’s no secret that communication is essential to any healthy relationship. After all, how can you truly know and understand your partner if you’re not able to talk openly and freely? However, simply being able to communicate is not enough. In order for communication to be effective, both partners need to feel like they are being heard. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. One or both people in the relationship may start to feel like their concerns are being ignored or brushed aside. This can lead to frustration and resentment, which can eventually boil over into arguments and conflict. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to take a step back and try to assess the situation. Are you truly listening to your partner, or are you just waiting for your turn to speak? If it’s the latter, then your partner might be feeling like they aren’t being heard. Try to really listen to what your partner is saying, without judgment. It may not be easy, but it could make all the difference in your relationship.

    2) Feeling criticized  

    One of the most common causes of conflict in relationships is criticism. When we feel that our partner is constantly finding fault with us, it can be very damaging to our self-esteem. We may start to feel that we can never do anything right, and this can lead to a feeling of hopelessness. In addition, criticism often leads to defensiveness, as we start to feel that we need to justify our actions. As a result, we may find ourselves caught in a cycle of arguments where neither person is able to express their feelings without provoking a defensive reaction. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to try and break the cycle by communicating openly with your partner and seeking professional help if necessary. Only by addressing the underlying issues can you hope to resolve the conflict.

    3) Unmet needs

    Couples often fight when one or both people feel their needs are not getting met. This can happen when there is a discrepancy between what each person wants and needs from the relationship, and how these needs are being fulfilled. One way to prevent this type of conflict is to ensure that both partners feel their needs are being met. This can be done by communicating openly about what each person wants and needs, and making sure that these needs are being met through mutual understanding and compromise. When both partners feel like their needs are being met, they are more likely to be satisfied with the relationship and less likely to argue.

    To fight less and have a more joyful relationship, I recommend the RDP Couples Communication Course.  In the course, you will learn how to deeply listen to your partner, express your thoughts and emotions in a helpful way, recognize and understand your patterns, and discover your needs and get them met. I am so excited to bring these well tested tools to a wider group of people through this online couples course.   

  • RDP Blog

    Welcome to the brand new RDP, Relationship Development Program blog!

    I am Dr. Sean Robertson.  I have a doctoral degree in behavioral psychology and have successfully worked with couples for over 12 years. My methods are based on both behavioral psychology and neuropsychology. I have distilled how I work with couples into clear, concise steps that build on each other and create new patterns of relating when practiced consistently.

    We are all wired for connection but communication and relating are skills that are learned. Ideally, we had some healthy role modeling from our parents on how to recognize our needs, listen to others, and productively express our thoughts and emotions. Many of us, though, developed some patterns and internalized belief structures that were not very helpful.  As adults, these patterns and belief structures can underlie many of the upsets that occur.

    Even those who did grow up in relatively healthy environments picked up a few unhealthy coping strategies along the way and can benefit by using tools to improve authentic positive communication.  This type of communication brings in more safety, play, and increased confidence in relationships.  Conflict or upset is inevitable in all partnerships, and is usually challenging for anyone.  Therefore most people need to have tools and skillful ways of navigating rupture and repair.  These conflicts are not always easy to resolve and can spawn a search to delve deeper into what is going on. Although it may feel uncomfortable, the breakdown often signifies areas of potential growth.  The result can be breakthroughs in a relationship, greater understanding of each partner involved, and renewing intimacy and vitality.

    Neuroscience has been showing that we can reshape subconscious automated brain patterns which appear as triggers, behaviors, and old beliefs by implementing new tools incrementally and consistently. This is great news for our romantic relationship and our relationship with ourselves.  Additionally, other areas of life benefit from clear empathetic communication including in the workplace or with family. As we change and grow within ourselves, our perception of the world evolves, which can allow for more overall fulfillment.

    In the RDP Couples Communication Course, you will learn how to deeply listen to your partner, express your thoughts and emotions in a helpful way, recognize and understand your patterns, and discover your needs and get them met. I am so excited to bring these well tested tools to a wider group of people. Helping couples has been a great joy and commitment in my life. I am looking forward to hearing about your experience and progress.

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