Posts Tagged ‘soulmate’

Three Keys to Creating an Extraordinary Relationship

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Click here to read my English Usage blogs.

While love can make us soar to new and giddy heights, it can also bring us to our knees. Love can be difficult, daunting, and more often than we wish, devastatingly painful. Ram Dass, one of my favorite Buddhist teachers who speaks truths with both lightheartedness and great compassion, has said that relationship is the hardest yoga of all. So maybe we shouldn’t think any more highly of a monk meditating on a mountaintop than we do of ourselves for having the courage to struggle with loving another human being.

Most of us have secretly believed, at one time or another (or frequently), that if we just changed partners, it would be SO much easier. And we may be right. The problem is that our hearts don’t always know if letting go is the answer or is simply an avoidance strategy. What if we pick the same person/problems in a new disguise? What if our partner is right and we’re the problem?

When couples come to counseling, they want to know what I think: Are they better off apart? Is the relationship worth salvaging? Will it get better? How much better? Will it ever be good enough? Relatively pain free? Do they even dare hope for happiness? When will they know when they’re “there”?

Even with 27 years of experience as a relationship coach, I am terrible at predicting the future of relationships. I worked with one couple who I would have bet wouldn’t last another six weeks past our first session. Ten years later, they still write me holiday cards with photos of them with their growing brood, their smiles real and joyful. They always write something that gives me way too much credit for their happiness. I laugh, mostly at myself and how wrong I secretly was about their chances.

Another couple, who seemed to have only minor issues, left their third (and final) session grateful, holding hands, reassuring each other of their mutual respect and love. The next I heard, only a few months later, one of them was living with a new partner. Like many of their friends, I murmured to myself, They seemed so good together.

USA Today, in an interview I did for them, gave me the title of relationship expert. I chuckle at that. Is there really such a thing? What are the qualifications for such an exalted title? Should expert status be conferred by statistics? Is it how many couples I have worked with who have stayed together? Or maybe how many couples I have helped split amicably, avoiding costly attorneys’ fees? Or should someone be dubbed a relationship expert who is a good predictor of a couple’s chances?

We have such high expectations of relationship: We want to feel loved, safe, heard, respected, supported, beautiful/handsome/sexy, and…we are inevitably disappointed when our partner isn’t a deep enough reservoir. Should we give up and move on? Can we do better? Will learning tools or increasing our self-awareness really help?

If there are tricks or theories or strategies or paradigms or sociological studies, how do you know which one(s) to pick or whom to trust? A numerologist will give you one set of parameters for finding and keeping your “perfect” partner; an astrologist, another paradigm; a psychologist, a third set of compatibility factors. A Buddhist guide might help you see relationship through the lens of karma. The psychic has spirit guides, tea leaves, or your palm at his/her disposal. Most of us take the smorgasbord approach: We try a little of this, a little of that, hoping to cobble together our own paradigm for success in relationship.

So, as USA Today’s relationship expert and, more truthfully, humble observer of hundreds of couples, let me add another morsel to your plate with my three keys to creating an extraordinary relationship. I believe that these are the “must have” tools that will help you find your way back to trust, intimacy, and friendship.

Jane’s Three Keys to Creating an Extraordinary Relationship

1. Ask open-ended questions. When people tell me what makes them feel most loved, they’ll mention roses, sex, cards, candlelight dinners, long walks, back rubs—all the usual stuff. They never mention being listened to. But I’ve found that it’s the act of love that is most appreciated, melts even the most cynical heart, and is a more potent aphrodisiac than chocolate or flowers.

2. Provide a safe haven. You know that Allstate insurance commercial with the two hands cupped together, palms up? When the chips are down for your partner, be that. Don’t judge or give advice; just gently hold their precious spirit in your hands. This is as close to unconditional love as one adult can ever offer another.

3. Offer truth, not just mere honesty. You may be honest if you tell your partner, “You were an inconsiderate boor” or “You’re an idiot.” Honesty can be hurtful to a relationship because it can contain judgments and assumptions. The difference between honesty and truth is that truth is nonjudgmental. I can say in truth, “I am really angry that you talked about my weight loss struggles in front of our friends. It felt humiliating.” When I teach couples this distinction, they sometimes argue that the truth sounds so much scarier because of the vulnerability required. I say, “Exactly! How do you expect to have intimacy without vulnerability?” It’s a choice—a courageous one. Truth is a form of love. When we are willing to tell the truth and hear it, we let our partner know that we are risking everything for the sake of the highest good of the relationship.

In my book, Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life, I offer many more tools that will minimize your pain and maximize the intimacy and joy in your relationship. But these three may be enough to get you out of your relationship rut and back to remembering why you were attracted to each other in the first place. Here’s to your courage, your vulnerability, and your compassionate intention!


Click here to read more about Jane’s popular self-help book, Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life, #15 on Amazon’s bestseller list in the spirituality category.

Dear Jane Podcasts
NEW! Listen to and Download Dear Jane Podcasts
I’ve got 32 podcasts available for listening so enjoy!
Jane’s Coaching and Training
For over 20 years, Jane Straus has coached individuals and groups, facilitated organizational retreats, conducted training programs, and presented keynotes for corporations and nonprofits nationwide.
To get exceptional results from coaching and training, you need someone who knows how to assess blind spots as well as enhance strengths. Jane’s coaching helps individuals and groups maximize their potential and improve their productivity and work relationships. Jane works to ensure that each client receives the wisdom, skills, and support he/she needs to succeed and often co-facilitates with industry-specific leaders who have chosen to mentor the next generation.
Contact Jane directly at to discuss your coaching or training needs or visit for more information and testimonials.

Click here to read Jane’s article in USA Today on the lessons we can glean from celebrity breakups.
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation 10th Edition
Amazon’s #1 Bestseller in Four Categories!
#1 in Reading
#1 in Lesson Planning
#1 in Vocabulary
#1 in Grammar

An indispensable tool for busy professionals, teachers, students, home-school families, editors, writers, & proofreaders. Click here to see the contents of the book online. Plus 161 Subscription Quizzes that can be done online with instant answers or downloaded and copied to your heart’s content! Only $29.95/year. Discounts available for schools, bookstores, and multiple copies. Click to order

Creating Your Ideal Relationship with A List

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

You can listen to and download this podcast by visiting or iTunes.
Dear Jane,
My life coach told me to come up with a list of criteria for what I want in a relationship. What do you think of this idea?

I often suggest this to my clients. As I write about in Enough Is Enough!, we are much more inclined to manifest something when we put our attention towards it. This also helps us discover and affirm the qualities that matter most to us. One of my clients (I’ll call her Jill.) created her list and guess what? A man who fits what Jill says “are the really important criteria” has come into her life. I love how honest, specific, humorous, and joyful her list is and asked her permission to share it with you. She and I both hope it inspires you to create lists of what you want in relationship as well as in work. Feel free to “borrow” from Jill’s list.

Jill’s Unedited Wish List for Her Ideal Mate

clean fingernails and toenails
well groomed
funny—a little Seinfeld, Stephen Wright, goofy, silly
smart knows what a haricot vert is, pronounces croissant properly
well read—can hang out in the bookstore with me and ask if I’ve read titles other than The DaVinci Code and rush to get me my copies of their favorites
has enough passion for music that they show physical movement
athletic but really, not just what they used to do can run a few miles without a chase ambulance, can ski the diamonds and actually make turns, understands the basic premise of wind and direction on a sailboat, gets soccer, can hit a tennis ball, cycles up a hill without more than the usual complaints
doesn’t need action/adventure movies
has at least one good friend that he’d bleed for
understands and suffers happily through single parenting and all that goes along with it
bilingual, and not in English and some ancient Star Trek Vulcan dialect
loves Moses
makes his bed in the morning
neat and well maintained home, and owns it
good driver, and I mean good confident, peppy
along the same lines, a magical kiss and gets what making out is all about
loves travel not just for travel’s sake can blend with any culture
likes five star when appropriate
is polite and respectful to service people, and I don’t mean the military
has a passion for food and wine but no airs about it
can use the word sneakers and knows that tennis shoes are sneakers specifically for tennis
calls a bathing suit a bathing suit
loves the beach and the sand, even in places that are uncomfortable
can bodysurf waterskiing is good, but a little negotiable
isn’t afraid to fly
can swim laps with panache
has style, understands style, and doesn’t work hard at it
knows that tall and slim doesn’t need pleats in his pants
understands tailoring
owns a good watch
prefers good shoes
laughs easily
communicates respectfully
honest to the core
has a soul and shares it
isn’t afraid of physicians, and isn’t impressed by them
cares deeply for the planet
sees nature everyday
seeks out art
loves design of any kind
can actually talk about architecture
recliner isn’t in his vocabulary
is generous with love, money, time, energy, humor
can attempt a decent crossword puzzle
plays scrabble with more than 3 letter words
knows about power tools and can use them
uses a dry cleaner
does good laundry
has a gentle touch
curiosity, insatiable curiosity about everything
grace under pressure
good table manners
can feel pain and shows it
won’t try and cage me
respects my hard fought freedom
positive role model for my boys
celebrates me and my quirks
understands compromise and does so without guilt or pressure
kindness to animals, even bugs
seeks real intimacy emotional before physical
accepts his own vulnerability and trusts that I won’t take advantage of it EVER
loves me passionately and clearly and deeply and learns to love my children for who they are, not because they come with the package
understands that marriage is a commitment of the heart, not a legal binding agreement, and that the feelings are organic and grow and morph and change all the time


Enough Is Enough! Seminar in New Orleans
I have been invited to New Orleans to give a workshop on November 18, 2007 for some folks whose lives were impacted by Katrina. During my stay, I will keep a video diary, which I will upload to my Web site, If you live in New Orleans, you are invited to attend this free workshop. Contact me at

Donation of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation to New Orleans Schools
I am donating 120 copies of the Eighth Edition of her bestselling reference guide and workbook, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation. If you know of a school in the New Orleans area that could use the book, contact Jane at

Jane on TV January 10, 2008
I will be interviewed on NBC 11’s The Bay Area Today on January 10. I will be talking about New Year’s resolutions. Expect a fresh take on the subject. More details to follow.

Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation,, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at