Solutions Based Counseling Helping Married Couples Stay Together

by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.

The power is yours. Whether your relationship simply needs some fine-tuning or whether it is in serious trouble, you will be amazed at how much relationship-healing you can do all by yourself. And if you are not in a relationship, there are many ways of approaching potential mates in a new and welcoming manner. Here are just six of the many suggestions from The Feel the Fear Guide to Lasting Love to get you started:

1) EXPAND THE PURPOSE OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP. As I see it, a relationship has two important purposes - a Practical Purpose and a Higher Purpose. The Practical Purpose of a relationship is simply to have someone with whom to share our lives. Traveling the road together can be a joyous experience. But sometimes problems with money, sex, children, work and the like can make the journey together very difficult. It is for this reason that we need to have a Higher Purpose.

The Higher Purpose of a relationship is learning how to become a more loving person--despite what problems come up. It is our using all the problems as a vehicle for seeing what we need to work on within ourselves to keep love in our heart. (Read that sentence again!) Too often, we blame our mate instead of realizing that this is a great time for learning and growing. As we blame our mate, anger and resentment build. If, however, we focus on the Higher Purpose, that of becoming a more loving person, the outcome can be very different. Problems can become a plus instead of a minus. We learn, we grow, we are filled with creativity, we take responsibility, we feel strong and our love for our mate grows. There is no question that it is through our Higher Purpose that we ultimately experience the exquisite beauty of real love.

2) PICK UP THE MIRROR INSTEAD OF THE MAGNIFYING GLASS. What does that mean? The magnifying glass represents our symbolically pointing a finger and blaming our mates for our unhappiness. Not good! The mirror represents our looking inward and taking responsibility not only for our actions but also for our REACTIONS to what is going on in the relationship. The mirror is self-awareness, and self-awareness is the first step toward positive change. An example:


***The magnifying glass: I am angry because he/she is taking time away from me to spend time with his/her friends.



***The mirror: Is my life so limited that I can't function without him/her for a few hours? It's time for me to take responsibility to create more balance In my life so that I don't feel empty and needy when he/she is not around.


3) HANDLE THE NEEDINESS. Neediness is an emotion created by fear and is therefore one of the prime destroyers of love. It stands to reason that if we are feeling needy, consciously or unconsciously, we are always trying to manipulate our mate with the desperate hope that they will make us feel whole. Neediness causes us to protect ourselves at the expense of our mate, to close our hearts, to judge our mates and blame them for our unhappiness, to become angry, resentful and defensive. Not a pretty picture!

We can handle the neediness by building a rich life for ourselves that involves our commitment to family, friends, career, volunteering, and so on. This allows us to be "safely vulnerable" always knowing, that no matter what happens in our relationship, our life is full and we have much to contribute to this world. In this way, our neediness disappears. And our ability to open our heart to love without fear increases dramatically. We become a magnet to all that is good in this world...and that includes a truly wonderful relationship.

4) RADIATE A POSITIVE AND LOVING ENERGY. Science is proving that feelings are contagious. This means that if you think and act lovingly, your partner will actually "catch" that loving energy. You become a model that evokes love in your mate. And the whole nature of the relationship begins to move in the direction of love. Of course, the opposite is true as well. If you think and act un-lovingly, your partner will "catch" that un-loving energy. You become a model that evokes conflict in your mate. And you know where conflict leads...often to the end of the relationship.

Bottom line: If you are feeling resentful, negative, disdainful and the like with your mate, work on changing your energy to one of love, appreciation, and caring. It can make all the difference in the world.

5) BECOME THE MATE YOU WANT YOUR MATE TO BE. First make a list of all the characteristics you want your mate to have. It could look like this: loving, thoughtful, warm, considerate, caring, appreciative, romantic, generous. Now for the big challenge...pick up the mirror and begin developing these qualities in yourself.

You may be someone who resists this challenge. But how can we ask our mates to be something we have been unwilling to be ourselves? Also, as you just learned, loving behavior is contagious. Just incorporating all these loving qualities within our own being can dramatically alter the thoughts and actions of our mate. Also, remember the Higher Purpose of your relationship...and that is to become a more loving person. This is a perfect opportunity to do so.

6) VALIDATE YOUR MATE. We have to learn to notice and openly express thanks for the beautiful things our mate does for us. (And if you can't find anything to thank him/her for, then why are you there?) It makes our mate feel so good when we let him/her know the things we appreciate about him/her. And it encourages him/her to continue doing beautiful things.

Remember that every relationship has its good and every relationship has its bad. By focusing on the bad, we starve. By focusing on the good, we thrive...allowing us to creatively and lovingly deal with the bad. So begin right now by appreciating all that your mate does in your life. Don't let another day pass before you say "Thank you for being in my life. I love you." Say it today...and say it often. It may take time to push through any resistance you may be feeling, but keep pushing. Eventually you will get yourself on the side of love.

Yes, the power is yours. No matter what the state of your relationship, it offers you an incredible opportunity for learning and growing. It is definitely worth all the effort you put into it. Why? A loving relationship feels sublime and brings you great joy; it makes life sweeter and easier. You delight in your ability to give to your mate; you feel abundant as you take in the love that he/she gives to you. Just sharing the journey with someone you doesn't get any better than that.


Now remember your challenge: See if you can apply the essence of these tools to everyone in your life. Practice, practice, practice...and watch how slowly, but surely, they help you lovingly connect with the entire world around you. Magic!


© 2009 Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
Adapted from The Feel the Fear Guide to Lasting Love

(Important: To use all or any part of this article, you are required to get permission from

These wonderful tools, along with many others, are explained more fully in The Feel the Fear Guide to Lasting Love. If you truly want to be in a healthy relationship or improve the relationship you are in (and there is always room for improvement!), you owe it to yourself to read, digest, and apply Susan's empowering tools that are included in this book.

Copyright © 2009 Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.  Adapted from The Feel the Fear Guide to Lasting Love.  This article is reprinted with permission of the author.  To learn more about Susan Jeffers and her work go to

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