Mona Barbera
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Solution #3

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Giving better back doesn't mean doing the "nice" thing, being fake, or being a doormat. It means giving energy that is better for YOU.

How do you feel after you are angry or cold? How do you feel when you can maintain your calm, connection, and clarity?

Do you have any doubt that you will feel better if you maintain your calm, connection, compassion and curiosity? Try it! You'll find you feel better - and you might be very surprised at how well your partner responds.

Here's a story of a real couple who gave better back:
The other day I came down for breakfast on Sunday and he's got his laptop at the breakfast table and I would have been really bitchy about in the past. But I looked at him and I started laughing and he said "What's up?" I said, "I kind of think that computer has been surgically applied to your hip."

He laughed, still typing away. Having fun, with a big smile on my face so that he knew I was being playful, I took the cane I was using and slowly tapped it against the computer to close the top an inch.

He said, "OK, I get it!" and he closed it down and he didnít open it up for 8 hours which is amazing for him.

He turned to me and said, "What can I do that will make you really happy today?"

I said "Clean the bathroom," and he did it. And then he vacuumed.

I was on the phone with my sister and she heard loud music and I said, "Oh my husband plays loud music when he cleans the bathroom." She said "WHAT!!!- He's cleaning THE BATHROOM??????!!!!"

I still have the knee jerk rejection to criticize him. But somethings stops me and I look at him and think he loves me and is trying so hard to help me understand how much he loves me. Iíve been so light about the things that used to bug me that he's become really joyful. He walks around with a big smile on his face.

Mona Barbara Photo Mona Barbera
Dr. Mona is a psychologist, couples therapist, couples workshop leader, speaker, and the author of Bring Yourself to Love: How Couples Can Turn Disconnection into Intimacy.
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Bring Yourself To Love Relationship Advice Book
This readable and engaging book uses vivid examples and exercises to help couples move from blaming, shaming, and distancing to staying calm, connected and curious.
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