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Posted December 15, 2013

wood bridge

In 2011, Connie developed The Mindful Couple Workshop, which is offered  twice a year in Bellingham and Victoria BC.  There is a FaceBook page associated with the Workshop, and Connie blogs there on approximately a weekly basis from mid-September through mid-May.

At the beginning of each year,  Connie offers a series of a dozen blogs outlining the steps to creating a harmonious and resilient long-term relationship.  Follow her there!  Click on the icon below.

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A New Paradigm of Committed Relationship

Posted October 19, 2012

holding hands, oregon

 Marriage is viewed as the cornerstone of society.  Something solid; something permanent.   An institution that will withstand the winds of time.   Young men and women have been  taught:  choose your partner well and the rest will follow.  Find someone who is honest, trustworthy, whom you enjoy, who also wants kids (or doesn’t).  Who shares similar values, who enjoys similar leisure activities.  Choose well and marry.  And the thinking continues:  If I do my job and you do yours, if we pay our bills on time, mow the loan, sweep the kitchen floor, keep our kids clean and safe, go out once a week or so, are nice to the neighbors, put a little away in savings, and attend church, everything should be just fine.  Do what you’re supposed to do, keep your life in order, and life will be good.

And if it’s not, “Well, honey, something must be wrong with you!”   We blame ourselves.

Marriage has erroneously been viewed as something that should survive on its own, without any assistance.  Indeed, something is wrong if a marriage needs time and attention, if a couple is reading a book about communication, or worse, seeks counseling or attends a workshop.

I see it differently.  I view a committed, romantic relationship as a living, breathing, evolving process between two people.  It isn’t stagnant, it isn’t a chunk of concrete.  It’s alive, it’s organic.   It either lives and thrives, or it dwindles and shrivels up.  Like any other activity (playing an instrument, raising a child, running a company, becoming a plumber, learning yoga), in order to be successful we must give that activity our presence, our time and our attention.   Where we give our attention is what flourishes.

A committed relationship is like a garden.  Gardens can certainly be ignored and still look pretty good…. for a while.  A neglected garden becomes – over time – overgrown, thorny, and unwelcoming.

Gardens that are attended to regularly are a sight of beauty and food for the soul.


Listening with Heart

Posted July 15, 2012

A client, a husband and father, sat in my office, reflecting about the steep decline that had occurred in his ten-year relationship.  “It’s unbelievable… completely unbelievable!   How did we ever get to this point?!”

(Read more…)

The Courage to Look Within

Posted June 24, 2011


The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough, or sane enough, to deal with.

To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes.

~  Pema Chodron


I was ready to kill him.

The hike was 4 miles in, 4 miles out.  Up to a supposedly breathtaking panoramic view of the Methow Valley.  Out beyond those acres and acres of scorched trees lay our destination.  Somewhere.

The hike began on paths winding through arched fields of sunflowers and towering pines, the sky a cerulean blue.  We felt giddy with the beauty of it all.   Then came a steep and exhausting switchback.  Hot and dusty, I kept thinking, It’s just around the corner.  Keep going, the ridge will be just around the corner.

Not even close.

(Read more…)


Posted May 20, 2011


Simplicity if not an objective in art,

one achieves simplicity despite one’s self

by entering into the real sense of things.

~  Constantin Brancusi


When you wake up in the morning, pause.  Just for a few seconds.

Pause and contemplate all that you have to be grateful for.

The comfort of your bed.  The gift of sight.  The roof above your head.  The sweet fragrance of the lilacs you cut and placed on the kitchen table the day before.  Your health.  The neighbor who smiled and waved on his way to work.  The friend you know will always be there when you call.  Your partner breathing softly beside you.

For this day, be grateful.


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True Love

Posted March 11, 2011


“I’m not in-love with him any more,” a wife said sadly in my office this week.

She had been.  Once, over a decade ago.  Before the brutal murder of her husband’s younger sister.  Before the years of tracking down the killer, the long, long trial, the life-sentence in prison.  Before the birth of their own two children.  Before Todd’s promotion at work that required 70-80 hours a week at the office.  Once, a long, long time ago Carol had been in love with her husband.

When her sister-in-law’s life had been taken in an unimaginable way, Todd had changed.  He became bitter, withdrawn, angry.   “Who wouldn’t?” said Carol.

I certainly would have, I thought to myself.

(Read more…)


Posted February 6, 2011







John Gottman took his 35 years of research on the masters (and disasters) of marriage and distilled it down into the concept of the Sound Relationship House.  The seven levels of the house depict his understanding on what creates a strong, viable relationship. [1]

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Surviving Hard Times

Posted November 9, 2010

In a recent Op-Ed in the New York Times, titled How Marriage Survives, Justin Wolfers examined current statistics on marriage.  He noted that the numbers have not changed significantly with the recent recession, thus concluding, “Truly, the recession has not torn young couples apart; it has pushed them closer together.”

Could have fooled me.

(Read more…)

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Relational Toolkit

Posted October 15, 2010

The skills needed to be a successful broker, a gifted carpenter, a dedicated schoolteacher or a fighter pilot, are not the same skills called upon to be a good partner. As adults we spend the vast majority of our time in our livelihood, be it an occupation or be it raising children and running a home. Many skills that are valuable in a professional or business setting, are actually detrimental in certain arenas of an intimate relationship.   (Read more…)

Relational Duct Tape

Posted October 5, 2010

As much as I would love to, I cannot take credit for this great metaphor.  Hats off  to Andy Greendorfer, a brilliant clinician in Seattle who said:

‘Repair’ is the duct tape of relationship – it’s versatile, it’s strong and a little bit can go a long way. Effective repair is like hitting the reset button.  It gets communication back on track.

So true, so completely true.

The concept of Repair  is another gem from John Gottman’s research on the “Masters of marriage.  Repair are those expressions – verbal and nonverbal – used during or after conflict to soothe, to invite softness or to maintain connection with one’s partner.

John’s research shows that  the masters of marriage stumble as much as the rest of us.  What they do differently is they are consistently gentle with one another; they are kind and they right their boat quickly by ‘repairing’.

Examples of relational repairs are accepting responsibility, offering an apology or a touch. Taking a step toward one’s partner’s point of view is a very potent form of repair:  “I didn’t think of  it that way.  What you’re saying makes a ton a sense.”  “You’re right.  I really was defensive.”

Repair early and repair often.

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