Yearnings: Follow Your Inner-GPS to Express Your Wants and Needs in a Relationship

Do you feel like you’ve been fighting over nothing lately? Does every little thing become a nitpicky fight between you and your partner?

Are you expressing your wants and needs in your relationship? It’s a tricky question, but one that most of us have pondered before.

We believe (or maybe expect) that a relationship should meet our wants and needs. We hope that our partner will “get” us and do those things that help us feel connected, happy, and fulfilled. But most of us have probably realized that our partners aren’t mind-readers. We have to express those feelings to get them on the radar—but how?

If we want to meet our wants and needs in a relationship, we need to dive in and discover our yearnings. Here’s how.

When the Thrill is Gone

It may sound harsh, but even the best relationships hit rough patches. As the old song goes, “The thrill is gone,” and some of us might be wondering where it went

When a relationship starts, we’re often energized, engaged, and ready to put our “best foot forward.” But after a few months or years, we shift out of the lavender haze and may start to feel a loss of connection. We may feel like we’ve been fighting over nothing lately. Every little thing becomes a nitpicky fight between our partner and us.

After we cool down and step away for a minute, we might think,

  • “If we could just get away for a few days, we’d probably get along better,” or…
  • “If we’d just have sex, I’m sure we would feel reconnected.”

We may feel dissatisfied, but we can’t pinpoint the actual problem. We know that neither partner is having an affair. No one has a substance abuse problem. We still genuinely love and care about each other, but we don’t get the same sense of excitement we once did. We may even find ourselves thinking about other people or remembering other relationships fondly.

Essentially—the thrill is gone. But is it really? And more importantly, can we get it back?The good news is that all of these common relationship feelings are rooted in our yearnings.

We long to have our wants and needs met in a relationship, but we might not know how to get there. These longings are what we call yearnings. They are feelings that we all have—hunger of the soul. They go deeper than “I want to look good naked” or “I want to go on vacation.”

Yearnings speak to the desires of our heart:

  • We yearn to be acknowledged and known.
  • We yearn to be seen, valued, and loved.
  • We year for respect, connection, intimacy.

For most couples, yearnings and unmet yearnings are at the root of dissatisfaction and at the heart of every fight. Our yearnings drive us. Like GPS, they steer us toward the direction of greater happiness and satisfaction. Our yearnings push us toward the things we want.

We often say that yearnings make couples tick, and unmet yearnings tick couples off.

We can imagine for a moment: what it is like when our yearnings are met in our relationship. Think of a time when we got home, and our partner’s eyes lit up when they saw us. They told us how much they missed us and couldn’t wait to hear about our day.

Imagine telling that partner about something extraordinary that happened during the day and knowing our partner is thrilled for us. Envision asking them for something that we really wanted—a dinner, a long walk, a conversation, physical contact—and having them enthusiastically agree. Or imagine telling them something we’re dissatisfied with, and they acknowledge our feelings and work together on a resolution. These would be examples of interactions that speak to our inner yearnings.

When our yearnings are ignored or unmet in our relationship, we may find ourselves drifting in opposite directions. Maybe we’re feeling distant from our partner, but we aren’t sure why. We might be afraid to bring up problems and discuss our feelings because we’re sensing a hidden middle finger (or giving one ourselves). We might withdraw from the relationship and feel a sense of disconnectedness.

Expressing Your Yearnings: It’s Not Actually About His Socks on the Floor

Our yearnings are extremely powerful. They go deeper than wishing that our spouses would stop putting their socks on the floor. But sometimes, something as simple as socks on the floor can make us feel like our yearnings are ignored and brushed aside. If having a clean, organized home is important to one partner but not the other, there might be an incongruency. That difference is underscored when the preference isn’t something that’s been clearly expressed. Often one partner doesn’t realize the importance of picking up the socks, while the other partner feels ignored and frustrated.

Years of socks on the floor pile up, and so do frustrations. Each night the irritation builds as we silently pick up our partner’s socks and seethe about it. Eventually, this can lead to resentment. We make a crack about our spouse’s sloppiness to friends. We make something he hates for dinner. We ignore his comments about his day. We’re silent and angry, and our spouse is confused about why we’re so cold and annoyed with them.

But at the root, we probably grew up in different households with differing standards of cleanliness. To one partner, socks are no big deal—a sign of feeling relaxed and comfortable. To the other partner, socks on the floor are an affront that says, “I don’t care about the work you put into our household. I don’t respect you or notice your efforts.”

We’re often engaged in these little power struggles in relationships, and we aren’t even aware that they’re happening. These little resentments and actions build up and can even cause explosive fights that seemingly go nowhere. Our partner might start picking up the socks, but it doesn’t resolve the underlying issue. At the root of the fight is often an unmet yearning.

Yearnings are significant wants and needs in a relationship. They may be:

  • Yearning to be respected,
  • Yearning to be cared for,
  • Yearning to be safe and secure,
  • Yearning to nurture and grow, and
  • Yearning to be appreciated.

Notice that nowhere on this list is “yearning for picked-up socks.” That’s because the true yearning isn’t really about the laundry pile. It’s something more poignant that runs much deeper. Yearnings are connected to the core of our humanity, existence, and identity.

Wants and Needs in a Relationship vs. Yearnings

It’s important to understand because there’s a difference between basic wants and needs in a relationship and yearnings. We often express what we think are our wants and needs, but when we get them met, we still feel unsatisfied, as though the larger issue still looms.

  • We can want our spouse to have sex with us more frequently.
  • We can want her to clean out the car when she uses it.
  • We can ask him to stop splashing toothpaste on the bathroom mirror.

When we express our wants, our partner often complies, but we may still feel annoyed. We feel like we’re nagging them or like we always have to tell them what we want. That’s a sure indication that we haven’t addressed the deeper yearnings behind our desires. A superficial action, like putting down the toilet seat or rinsing a dinner plate doesn’t really address the heart of the issue. We find ourselves running around mopping up water without fixing the broken pipe and addressing the source of the leak.

Real, true satisfaction and intimacy come from expressing our yearnings and understanding why they matter to us. This can happen in or out of a relationship. It’s about first doing the work to understand what’s going on inside our hearts and minds.

The great part is that when we identify our yearnings, we can find many different ways to get them met. It’s not just about relying on one person to do a specific action. We may yearn to connect with others, and we can do that by connecting with friends, coworkers, family, or our spouse.

If our partner simply complies with our expressed demand without understanding or learning our underlying yearning, the interaction might feel hollow or superficial. We aren’t getting those feelings of being acknowledged, appreciated, or loved. We’re simply training someone to pick up socks.

Our Yearnings Matter!

So, what about when we fight? We don’t really yearn to “win” the fight when it comes to fighting. Yes, we may want to express our point; we may think we want to win. But after we feel briefly superior and proud of our status as the “winner,” we might realize that we haven’t solved anything at all.

At the heart of many of our conflicts is fear (or the simple fact) that our yearnings aren’t being met and that we aren’t clearly expressing and requesting them from our partners. Yearning is at the core of our survival. Yearning to love and bond keeps mothers caring for their children. Yearning to be safe, sheltered, connected, and respected all have a biological imperative behind them. When our yearnings are met, we experience a rush of feel-good emotions and chemicals. When our yearnings are ignored, we experience a flood of fear, adrenalin, and stress hormones.

When we understand the neuroscience beneath our yearnings, we can quickly see why they’re so powerful and why they play such a strong role in our conflicts, especially with our partners—the people we rely on and trust.

When we feel frustrated about something our partner did, we can step back and ask ourselves, what is the underlying yearning? What do I really want from them? Is it that I want to be seen? Heard? Respected? Connected? When we identify those yearnings, we can try expressing them.

What would happen if we asked our partner for more physical contact? What if we explained why a clean house makes us feel more secure? What if we “went there” in conversation and brought our yearnings out into the light?

If we want to build stronger connections and get our yearnings met in our relationship, we must first identify them within ourselves. Then we can take steps to express our yearnings to our partner. Acknowledging our yearnings is the first battle, one we must wage within ourselves. As we come to a better understanding of what drives us, we can start expressing those wants and needs to our partners. Ultimately, when we say what we really want in our relationship, we’ll strengthen our bond and start getting closer.

For more ways to strengthen your relationships, visit Wright Now. We offer an array of courses to help you build stronger connections, discover more about yourself, and move towards the life you want—a life of more. Start getting what you want today!

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Getting Along with Coworkers: Here’s Why It’s All Relative

Is getting along with coworkers a tall order? Do you ever struggle, wondering why your coworkers drive you up a wall?


You can get along with coworkers and create a work family.



We often hear people lament about their coworkers, not realizing that their relationships with their peers often mirror their other relationships with friends and family. People claim that they’re totally different at work, or their work lives look nothing like their home lives.

But then they face the same types of disagreements in both places. Here’s why it’s crucial to examine your relationships across all aspects of your life, especially if you’re having a tough time getting along with coworkers.

Creating Our Work Family

“I just don’t understand why my coworker bugs me so much.”

“I work in an office with so much drama. UGH. I hate it!”

“I’m a completely different person when I’m at the office.”

Do you ever wonder why getting along with coworkers is so hard? It may be time to take a look at your relationships in the rest of your life. The truth is, we’re the same everywhere. Chances are if you’re bothered by certain types of people, or if you fall into the drama triangle at work, you’ve probably seen the same patterns at home. Like it or not, pleasing your boss and getting along with your coworkers often mirrors the dynamics you experience with your family.

We spend much of our time at work. So, it’s natural we would build strong relationships. Many people find they’ve recreated their family relationships and dynamics at the office after years at work.

That hard-to-please mother? She’s your boss. Your easy-going relationship with your dad? You might see the same dynamic at play with your favorite manager. That coworker who pushes your buttons and pisses you off? He has the same traits as your brother (and probably gets under your skin for the same reasons).

We automatically recreate our expectations of the world and our relationships right there in our office from 9-5. So, if you want to start getting along with your coworkers, it’s important to remember—the dynamics are all relative!

The Hierarchy of Authority at the Office

Within most workplaces, there is a hierarchy of authority. Well, guess what—growing up, we also experienced a hierarchy of authority. For most of us, the authority came from our parents, but no matter how our family was structured, there was a power dynamic at play.

In most households, Mom and Dad were the first authority figures in your life. Your relationship with them is reflected in your relationships with your coworkers and feelings toward authority figures throughout your life (whether you like it or not).

Let’s say you had authoritarian parents who were very demanding. Well, you probably learned to resist them. Possibly, you learned to passive-aggressively resist them by not doing exactly what they wanted. Or you learned to openly get mad and fight them. Welcome to your authority issues today.

If you were competitive or in conflict with your parents, you’re probably going to struggle at the office when you feel bossed around (which is, as we all know, a natural part of work).

If your parents were inconsistent and the hierarchy and the power balance between you were hard to figure out, you’ll often see this same scenario play out again as authority issues at work. You may struggle to figure out your boss. You may feel the need to question your manager or balk at orders and instructions. Or you may put on an air of agreeability but bemoan the orders the moment your manager is out the door.

All these reactions speak volumes about the way you view authority today, as well as the authority you were raised with when you were growing up. Eventually, you’ll face similar feelings in the workplace to those you experienced in your childhood and felt toward your parents. It’s a natural, normal part of human behavior.

But What if Your Boss is a Jerk?

Many people realize they have authority issues but identify the problem as, “my boss is a jerk.” When we pin the problem entirely on the personality of our boss, we fail to recognize these issues stem from and exist within us. Don’t like your situation at work? You have the power to explore and change your relationship with authority.

You were born in your family issues—long before you had any say in the matter. But recognizing this truth will help empower you. Even if your boss or coworkers are vastly different from your parents, you will eventually create and experience the same patterns over and over again that you played out during your childhood. It’s essential to explore these dynamics and their origin, especially if you’re finding it challenging to get along with your coworkers.

Another family pattern that’s become especially common these days is what we refer to as the super enmeshed family. This is where the family is overly involved in a person’s life, and they fail to separate once they reach adulthood. The enmeshment stems from parents who are highly focused on the happiness of their kids.

While wanting your kids to be happy is positive, it’s possible to pin your identity and focus entirely on your children. What ends up happening with super enmeshed parents is their kids don’t know if they’re living for their own happiness or their parents’ happiness. We’re seeing this type of dynamic more and more in the age of the “helicopter parent.”

What happens to those who grew up in super enmeshed families? We see people who grow into middle age without ever really becoming adults. They never truly disconnect from their parents and learn to function as whole, adult human beings.

This plays out in relationships with friends and family, at work, and even within romantic relationships. This over-parenting leads to a lack of independence, confidence, and ability to make decisions.

So, what does this mean for you? Do you want to break free from the patterns? Do you believe they don’t affect you? Well, first of all, tough luck.

You take your family everywhere. It’s impossible to avoid recreating the dynamics because it’s an integral part of your programming and part of human nature. You will find your parents’ traits in others throughout your life. If you can’t find the traits of your parents right away within the people you meet, then you’ll recreate those relationship dynamics as your connection develops.

No matter what your relationship with your parents was like (and there are no perfect parents out there, so if you think your parents were “saints,” think again), you will see this play out in your relationships later. We call this your unfinished business.

Understanding Your Unfinished Business to Start Getting Along with Coworkers

The realization we’re carrying around our familial issues is tough to take. Most of us don’t love the idea. It may even make us feel angry. The good news in all of this is your work relationships create an excellent opportunity to explore your unfinished business and apply personal growth lessons in the real world.

If we’re interested in learning, growing, and becoming more complete human beings, then our work relationships provide us with an excellent chance to really explore our dynamics with others. At work, you have a perfect laboratory of sorts to look at how your relationships play out; to think about how getting along with your coworkers or not getting along with coworkers mirrors your connections with your family members.

In an ideal setting, you are the authority in your own life. You embrace the power within you, and consequentially, you fully acknowledge the authority of those over you, such as in a work setting, without resentment. In fact, in an ideal situation you, empower those authorities without undue competitiveness or anger.

But of course, most of us still have growing to do. We have unfinished business to address!

We all face a challenge to become whole and complete human beings. It’s incumbent on each of us to address our unfinished business so we become more honest and straightforward communicators.

It’s not about simply “tolerating” or getting along with your coworkers, but rather digging in and understanding why you click (or why you don’t click).

One of the best steps we can take to improve and understand our work life is to realize that our work dynamics are relative—a direct reflection of our family of origin.

Work gives us a great sandbox to experiment with these dynamics and explore our connections. So, look around at the people you like a lot at work. Who do those people remind you of in your family? Then take a look at the people who get under your skin. Who do they remind you of? Push yourself to explore the lesson at hand. What immaturity and unfinished business are you bringing to the office?

For more on building your relationships and power at work, explore our courses available on Wright Now. We offer an array of webinars and virtual classes to help you connect with others and learn more about yourself.


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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.



Happily Never After: Why We Should Get Over Fairytale Romance

Looking for a storybook love? Here’s why we should get over fairytale romance and work toward a relationship where we can be our real selves.


We all want a fairytale romance, but Prince or Princess Charming isn't real. Here's how to make romance work, the real way

How many of us have idyllic pictures of romance in our heads: frolicking together in the snow, playing on a sandy beach, living happily ever after? Society, movies, books, and even our social media accounts have set us up with expectations of fairytale romance that are false and potentially damaging.

When we set the bar for perfect relationships at “living happily ever after”—meaning never engaging in any conflict or working toward deeper understanding—who can expect anything but failure? Almost all of us have this Cinderella perspective on our relationships. We think it’s up to our partner to make us happy. Or we believe that our significant other should be our soulmate. If we only find “the one,” we’ll resolve all our problems and live perfect lives.

The truth is, we are the only ones who can make ourselves happy. It is not our partner’s job (nor is it even within their power). Beyond that, no one has a perfect relationship. Part of unlocking your relationship’s full potential and finding happiness alongside your partner is letting go of the myth of the “fairytale romance” (and maybe even embracing our inner ogre).

Embrace the Adventure of Romance

Romanticized and idealized versions of fairytale romance we’ve seen depicted in the media leave us feeling like our relationships are inadequate. We end up in a constant state of disappointment because we’ve walked in with ridiculous expectations since we watched Snow White and Cinderella in our childhoods. This “Disney love” leads to devastation and confusion when our real-life relationships don’t quite match our fantasy ideals.

We have to dump these false ideas, get over fairytale romances and instead embrace the reality of what we have. We also have to realize that no one has a perfect relationship. Those couples who seem to have an ideal connection have likely learned to engage and fight together FOR the relationship.

But of course, it’s hard to let go of the idea of a fairytale romance. It’s not that we can’t have affection, warmth, or love, but it’s that the concept of a fairytale romance is based on a false premise—an idealized version of reality. We can still have plenty of intimate moments and times when we laugh, smile, and get warm fuzzies about our partner. Romance is still great—but it’s the REAL romance we’re looking for, not the fairytale version.

If we explore the real idea of romance by looking up the definition, we get, “Romance is 1. A brief, intense love affair; or 2. A sexual love when another person or the relationship is idealized.” Yikes!! That doesn’t sound like true and lasting love or a life-long connection! The third definition, which speaks to the truth of romance, is 3. Romance is an exciting adventure with the potential for heroic achievement.

Now, doesn’t that sound a little more accurate and much more exciting? Who wouldn’t want to be a brave hero or heroine who conquered their weaknesses, recognized their strengths, and embraced the adventure of relationships?! But with adventure comes risk, and yes, even a little danger and vulnerability.

To have the kind of connection that lasts, we have to be brave—to share our truths and allow ourselves to show who we are. Intimacy comes from authenticity, so we need to “get real.” We have to be unafraid to enable our inner ogre to come out and say all of those things we feel afraid to share, warts and all. Being our true selves is the real challenge in relationships. It’s all about honesty, making our yearnings known, and expressing our feelings openly and without reservation.

Life, just like romance, is an adventure. It’s fraught with conflict and ups and downs, but if we let go of the myth of the fairytale, we get to the real heart of the story. As we explore in our book, The Heart of the Fight, when we get real and honest with our partner, we start to fight together and work FOR the relationship. Challenges bring us closer together.

Love isn’t easy—and it shouldn’t be. Love is beautiful because it nurtures us and forges us into who we can become. We have to work for it, but engaging in a partnership with another person makes the adventure so much better.

Great Relationships Require Great Fights

We’ve all had fights with a significant other. What happens? We get sad, thinking that the relationship is undoubtedly doomed if we’re fighting.

We all know fights and conflict can be a little scary sometimes. We engage and express our feelings, and then we measure our partner’s reaction. If it’s positive, we might keep moving forward, but if it’s not, we might find ourselves withdrawing to avoid more fighting. As humans, we move toward pleasure and away from pain. It doesn’t always “feel good” to fight, of course, so we might find ourselves avoiding confrontation (even if we feel upset).

When we hold our feelings in, we actually drive our relationship further apart. By holding back and avoiding conflict, we might think we’re doing our partner a favor. We’re suppressing our feelings for the betterment of the relationship. But if our relationship is important, then it’s worth fighting for what we really want!

Growth-oriented relationships are going to have conflict. Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, that conflict strengthens us and enables us to develop into our potential more fully. With work, our relationships can help us during that struggle, providing both a womb to grow and a crucible to forge our emerging selves.

So rather than shutting down at the first sign of trouble and heading for the hills (or clamming up and giving the hidden middle finger with passive-aggressive actions), we can express our feelings openly, even if they piss off our partner. Growth-focused relationships require us to keep fighting it out. We have to understand each other and say what we feel, even if it’s tough.

If we find ourselves falling into a pattern where we avoid conflict or where our partner avoids it because it’s just more comfortable, it’s time to step back and assess.

If he’s dissatisfied and she’s dissatisfied, then there’s definitely conflict to be had. Some issues need to be brought out into the open. It’s the time to lay it all out on the table. Test the relationship and really push the limits to see if it can go the distance. When we have reservations in relationships, we should explore them, understand them, and bring them out into the light.

Real Intimacy Comes from Conflict, Not Riding Off into the Sunset

In fairytales, no one ever discusses their concerns or problems. When did Sleeping Beauty bring up her feelings?

Fairytales and romantic movies tell us a story about the very beginning of a “magical” relationship; couples “meet-cute.” They may have a problem (usually an outside force) that they have to overcome, and then, you see the happy couple sail off into the sunset before the real relationship even gets started.

In reality, when you’re first starting to get to know each other, that’s the time for working out all the nitty-gritty conflict. The beginning of relationships can be absolutely critical moments to put your honest self out there, which means letting your partner see you at your worst, not just your best. If you put on a front or put your best foot forward, when will they fall in love with the real you?

Real intimacy is forged through conflict, not avoidance.

When we make relationship decisions, we often do them out of convenience or because we’re at a time in our life where things feel like they’re in a natural pattern. However, whether a lease is up, your friends are getting married, or you’re afraid of being alone, that doesn’t mean you’re ready to jump in fully. Don’t slide into your relationship. Decide to move forward with intention and purpose.

Get the truth out! We should tell our partners what we want and what we need from them. We should be working on ourselves together. Engage in your relationship and examine the pieces. If you have reservations, address them and get everything out in the open if you have concerns.

Will it always go smoothly or look like a movie? No way! But when we get over fairytale romance, we can start working toward a real, fulfilling, strong connection—one where we both get what we want and need from the union.

Committing to expressing our truth is one of the most significant gifts you can give to your relationship. It keeps it real and viable. It keeps you both moving forward, looking to the future, and growing together. Great relationships require great fights. Real intimacy comes from that ongoing honesty and openness.

Ready to explore more about getting the relationship (and the life) you want? Don’t miss our courses on Wright Now. We have many personal growth, relationship, and career courses and training available to stream. Start getting more out of life by unlocking your full potential!



How to Make a Boring Relationship Fun Again

Relationship boredom. It happens, even to seemingly happy, strong relationships.

Why do some relationships lose their spark? How do you make a boring relationship fun again? Here’s how to overcome relationship “blahs” and reconnect with your partner.

One day, you look at your partner and wonder how you became so distant. Sometimes we get busy, life moves along, we’re going about our day-to-day activities, but we just don’t feel the same spark we once did.

What can we do about it? How do you make a boring relationship fun again? How can you get back the spark?

Is the Thrill Really Gone?

Studies show that boredom is a true relationship issue. Couples don’t break up because of bad stuff…they break up because there’s a lack of good stuff holding them together. When we feel dissatisfied in our relationships, we may start to seek attention elsewhere. We’re looking for novelty.

Think back to the days at the beginning of your relationship. Chances are you were feeling high on your partner. You were stimulated by all this new information. You couldn’t wait to know more about this fascinating, attractive, engrossing person you were dating.

As the years go by, that newness fades. It’s not because our partner has changed or become less fascinating, attractive, or engrossing. It’s because they’re less new. There’s less to discover about them. The fun and exciting exploration wanes.

I was working with Sharon, who told me of her 25-year marriage, “My mother always said, ‘settle for boring and stable over exciting.’ So, I guess I’m expecting too much from Dale. Maybe I should just be happy that he’s a nice guy who’s a decent breadwinner and leave it at that.”

As we explored this a bit more, I said, “Well, what first drew you to him? Did you always find him, ‘boring and stable’?”

“Oh no! When we were younger Dale was always so intelligent and interesting to talk to. We used to stay up having these fascinating talks about science and space. It was like he knew something about almost everything. He was this shaggy-haired, professor who drove around on his moped, played guitar, and read Carl Sagan.”

As we talked further, she realized it wasn’t that she had settled for her husband. It was that she had settled for that status quo in the relationship and in her life overall. She admitted that she wasn’t satisfied in other areas of her life as well—her job, her relationship with her friends. We talked about ways to raise her expectations all around, both of her relationship and herself.

We get used to our relationship routine. It becomes familiar and comfortable. While comfort in a relationship isn’t a bad thing at all, it’s not always conducive to growth.

We can think of our relationships as both a womb and a crucible: a place where we are nourished and nurtured, and also a place where we’re forged and become stronger. In both cases, it’s important to remember that growth isn’t always a comfortable or static state. Sometimes it’s painful.

The spark found at the beginning of a relationship doesn’t go away with time, but you’re used to the thrill of it. This isn’t just relegated to the bedroom “spark” either. The attraction and passion you feel at the beginning comes from intimacy, yes, but intimacy is also born from engagement and connection. Making a boring relationship fun again means finding that connection again.

There’s a great importance of novelty. Trying new things, learning, and discovering are vital to our happiness and sense of purpose. Novelty wakes our brain up; it helps us feel more alive, engaged, and stimulated. When we do something new, life becomes an adventure!

This attraction to the new and exciting goes back to what’s called the self-expansion theory. Our relationships expand and influence our interests. When we try new activities, we start to see life differently. The way we feel changes. Each interaction shapes and expands who we are at our core.

So, the truth of the matter is, perhaps it’s not your relationship that’s lost the spark and needs work. What are you bringing to the relationship and how are you fueling the fire? It’s really the spark inside YOU that needs to be rekindled!

How to Get the Spark Back

If the passion and zest for our relationship starts with us, how do we get that feeling back? How do we reengage and rediscover our partner and ourselves?

Couples grow stronger through affirming, celebrating, and empowering each other. Sharing power, making decisions together, and working as a team.

Carol, another woman I worked with, was a married, working mom of two. One of her children had developmental issues and required a lot of her attention. She was feeling frazzled, unappreciated, and stuck in the monotony of every day life.

She realized part of her frustration was coming from the lack of support she felt from her husband, Dave. It wasn’t that he didn’t help, but he wasn’t as expressive as she would have preferred. “He never says, ‘I love you,’ spontaneously. I feel like he never tells me, ‘you’re doing a great job.’” We talked about the ways Dave did express his affection—through doing things for her and assisting her.

So, how could she shift the pattern they were stuck in? How could she get the affirmation she was craving?

Carol began a new habit whenever Dave did something nice for her. She would say out loud, “Oh you did this for me?! That means you love and appreciate me!”

He would, of course, respond by saying, “Yes, exactly!”

The more he was affirming her, the better she felt. She appreciated his help and naturally, he started doing even more to assist her with the children and around the house. She felt loved and he felt better about himself and more empowered in the relationship.

Sometimes stopping a tedious cycle means engaging in real, truthful communication.

It means that you and your partner need to stop talking about just the logistics and minutia of the day and discuss the big stuff.

Those topics that might even feel scary or “off-limits” are exactly what we should get out in the open. It’s time to “go there” instead of avoiding it.

Now, all couples talk about what’s for dinner, what’s on the agenda this weekend, or who’s going to run the next errand. But sometimes these little topics take over our conversations. We stop discussing feelings, hopes, fears, and our vision for the future. We lose sight of the bigger picture and deeper meaning in our union.

Get back to getting to know each other. Find time to talk about the bigger topics, rather than the logistics of the day. What’s weighing on your heart and your mind? What challenges have you faced recently? What support are you looking for from your partner? What do you appreciate about them and how do you want to support their dreams?

Don’t be afraid to talk about the difficult topics either. Be honest about what upsets you and what resentments you might be feeling. Tell your partner what you don’t like and what’s frustrating you. Agree to speak and listen in turn, without interruption. Express what you’re feeling honestly and truthfully and hold space for your partner to do the same. Conflict and yes, fighting, can bring us closer together. Difficult, honest, and even angry fights are more helpful than bottling up our feelings or sweeping them under the rug. Get it out and battle your way toward bliss.

Making a Boring Relationship Fun Again Starts with YOU

Remember—boredom isn’t just about your relationship. It starts by looking within yourself. Feelings of boredom and disconnection in your relationship are often mirrored in other areas of your life. Are you disengaged with your partner or are you disengaged all around? It’s easy to say, “my relationship isn’t making me happy anymore,” but our happiness is our responsibility.

In our book, The Heart of the Fight, we discuss the Rules of Engagement. These are 7 important rules to fighting fair and productively in your relationship. One of the most important of these rules is that YOU are 100% responsible for your own happiness. Similarly, no one in a relationship can take more than 50% of the blame. Remember, it takes two to tango. It’s not your partner’s responsibility to make you happy, nor is it fair to blame more than 50% of your relationship frustrations on your partner.

What can you do to add more excitement and adventure in your life? How can you become engaged, fulfilled and satisfied? Look at what areas of your life may need some attention.

Get Naked for Greater Intimacy

Excitement in a relationship comes from building a stronger connection and discovering new aspects of our partner. While we may think of the bedroom as the place for intimacy, we can have true intimacy anywhere and everywhere. Sex may be a great way to express intimacy, but it’s not the only way and usually not the best way to express our connection. Our connection comes through being emotionally open…naked and honest with our partner.

When we bring this level of intimacy into every day, each moment of our life together becomes foreplay. We experience greater closeness and joy. Now, this doesn’t come by simply being affectionate with our partner. This comes from digging in and forging ahead together. It comes from teamwork and working together toward a goal. It can be fun, but intimacy also comes from work.

We can liberate ourselves from our patterns and break out of our routine by mixing things up. This means making the choice to fight FOR our relationship rather than fighting against our partner. Fight to bring back the thrill. Refocus your efforts from being annoyed or indifferent toward your partner, to finding new ways to connect. How can you introduce novelty and variety into the every day?

Too many couples settle into boring routines, which is deadly to relationships (Tsapelas, Aron, and Orbuch, 2009). Couples who keep learning, growing, and changing have exciting, satisfying, close relationships. Make your dates count. Exciting dates are better than pleasant ones (Aron et al. 2000, Lyuobomirsky 2013). Go deep. Have a “challenge date” at least once a month. Challenge each other— discuss issues outside the relationship and make observations about how each of you is generating problems for yourself at work, with friends, or in other areas outside the couple relationship. Support each other to keep learning and growing to be your best. Have “show- and- tell” and “inspiration” dates regularly where each of you brings new ideas, demonstrates a new skill, and shares what you are learning and what inspires you.
The Heart of the Fight

So, if you’re ready to make a boring relationship fun again, roll up your sleeves and get to work! Find ways to introduce novelty and excitement into your everyday life. Examine your needs and yearnings and express them to your partner.

Embark on a project with your partner, take a class, try a new hobby, or go on an adventure. Engage in honest, open discussions and focus on bringing the intimacy and connection back to your relationship.

For more ways to strengthen your relationships please visit The Wright Foundation. We have a number of exciting networking events on the calendar, giving you a great chance to connect with others on their journey. Start your self-discovery today and unleash your fullest potential.


The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

How to Handle a
Hostile Work Environment

So you’ve decided to embrace the power of positive thinking. You’ve learned of the paradigm shift a positive outlook can bring about, and you’re ready to bring the change into your life. 

Unfortunately, your coworkers seem to have missed the memo.

Whether your office is experiencing a “case of the Mondays” or worse, it can be deflating and defeating to work in an environment where you’re constantly battling the negative vibes of others.

Now, it is true that people complain and vent at work. It creates a sense of camaraderie and a shared experience. Sometimes it can be an attempt by your coworkers to make small talk or simply connect.

Even if those around you seem to feel very strongly about their negative complaints, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re terrible people or even bad employees. When we’re invested in what we’re doing, we’re going to feel strongly about things. Emotions go into our work and when we’ve poured in our blood, sweat and tears, we can be easily wounded, frustrated or upset simply because it’s so important to us. Our work and our careers can be a big part of our identity and how we see ourselves. This doesn’t make for light emotions.

However, some people just bitch to bitch. It has nothing to do with them feeling strongly about their job or caring too deeply. It’s just that they feel like “harshing your mellow” and raining on your parade. Your positivity might rub them the wrong way or they may simply be someone who hasn’t realized their negative words and thoughts lead to more frustration and sorrow.

The first step in how to handle a hostile work environment is to separate the naysayers and Negative Neds and Nancys from the truly hostile, toxic people. There will always be complainers, and while they might be frustrating and annoying to deal with, they generally aren’t out to make your work environment intolerable.

Dealing with Complainers

When you’re faced with a Dan or Debbie Downer, try to shift the conversation. Focus on having more meaningful interactions with them. Offer to grab a cup of coffee and lend them an ear. Remember conversation is about give and take.

Ask your coworker, “What did you do this weekend? Why was it so great?” Conversely, if they say, “Thank God it’s Friday—this week can’t be over soon enough,” ask them, “What’s been so bad about your week?” Sometimes, when they start to articulate all of their complaints, they’ll have a change of heart. You might hear, “Well, actually it wasn’t so bad, I’m just looking forward to something exciting this weekend.”

Suddenly the conversation has gone from a litany of complaints to a meaningful connection focused on positive activities and excitement about the future.

Try to see the truth in who your co-worker is, and realize they’re a person who wants to be heard and understood. Maybe they just don’t know how to express things in a positive way or they see co-conspiring as a way to build a connection. Find a way to connect beyond the collusion by looking at them a little closer, and listening to what they’re really hoping to say.

Embracing Your Own Positivity

Lead by your example. One of the easiest ways to keep focused on the positive is to BE positive. When someone begins the transformational growth process, they often start with initial bravado and enthusiasm.

Even in a hostile work environment, you don’t have to be “fake” or pretend everything’s great to work on your positive mindset. It’s still okay and even healthy to acknowledge you feel fear, sadness or frustration. Those emotions, while negative, need to be expressed as well.

“When fear is allowed to operate beneath the surface, however, it does the most damage. When people quit things it is often because they fail to acknowledge and deal with their fears so they rationalize instead. Typically, they approach new activities brimming with confidence and even cockiness—generally a sign of someone not listening to their fear. They communicate that they’re ready for anything, be it a new job, new school, or even a marriage—that they have no anxiety about what the process requires of them. As much as their gung-ho attitude provides them with initial positive energy, this energy can easily turn negative. It begins to sound an alarm in their unconscious mind, warning them about taking risks, about trying new activities, about pushing themselves into areas where they aren’t skilled or comfortable.”

Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living

Acknowledge your truth and the spectrum of emotions you might be feeling, but approach experiences as growth and learning opportunities. View each situation as a chance to learn more about yourself and to get closer to your goals and vision. See your fear and harness it rather than avoiding it. Rather than setbacks, look at obstacles as opportunities to reroute and discover even more about yourself.

Dealing with Toxic Coworkers

Even those of us with the most positive intentions will now and again run into people who are just downright toxic. These people, try as you might, just refuse to connect with you, engage or move forward. What’s worse, they might even be thwarting your attempts to grow or do your work. They can make your job downright miserable, and certainly contribute to a hostile work environment.

When you’re dealing with someone who’s truly toxic, don’t be afraid to confront the issue. Surprisingly, sometimes bringing it out on the table and saying, “Look, I feel like you’re angry with me or I’m rubbing you the wrong way. This is what I want to get done and where I’m trying to lead us. Explain what you’re trying to get done and let’s see if we can find a way to get on the same page.”

If they balk at the confrontation or continue to try to sabotage you and throw you under the bus, don’t let your negative coworker throw you off course. Keep your communication with your boss and leadership strong and open. It doesn’t mean you need to “tattle” to your boss, but if a toxic coworker has become more than just an annoyance, there may be formal complaints and other management interventions needed.

In most cases, however, confronting the person and letting them know you’re feeling upset, picked on, bullied or otherwise annoyed with them can help you get things out in the open so they can be addressed. Sometimes they might not even be aware of how bowled over they’re making you feel or how their hostile attitude is affecting you and the team. Bringing it out into the light is the first step to resolving the issue.

Keep your interactions at work focused on the “big picture.” If you steer off course, always bring it back to your personal vision and how it aligns with the vision of the leadership in your organization. Look at the good you’re doing within your workplace and how you’re helping others and making the world a better place. If you can find the good and positive in your job, it will be the silver lining to make each day (even Mondays) better.

For more on how you can move forward in your life with positive intentions, please visit Wright Living. Find out how you can transform yourself and those around you by bringing more light and goodness into the world. Be your best self!

Dr. Bob Wright


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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Dealing with Malicious Gossip
in the Workplace

We’ve all worked with a “door closer.” You know the type: the moment they walk in your office and shut the door, you know they’re about to spill some juicy info about someone else.

Conversely, when you see this spreader of malicious gossip in the workplace walk in someone else’s office and shut the door, you wonder if they’re talking about you.

Some people can’t get enough office gossip. Are you one of them?

Whether you work with a gossiper or if you engage in dishing out the dirt yourself, you have to consider if your words and actions are really moving your team in a positive or negative direction.

Every interaction with a gossiper takes on an adolescent quality because gossip is an adolescent and immature form of communication. With gossipers, oftentimes you’re either “in” or “out,” which is why dealing with malicious gossip in the workplace can feel like you’re back in high school. Gossipers thrive on passive-aggression and fear tactics. People who are engaged and direct confront issues head-on. People who are secure in themselves don’t concern themselves with what’s going on in other people’s lives.

From Expressing Concern to Participating in Office Gossip

There’s a huge difference between gossip and expressing legitimate caring or concern for another person. Highly socially and emotionally intelligent people have empathy and sensitivity to the feelings of others.

Let’s say you’re advising your coworkers about a client going through a rough time or a coworker who might be struggling and could use a hand. These pieces of information aren’t necessarily born of negativity or malice, but rather, of tact and kindness. Talking about other people isn’t always negative. Sometimes sharing sensitive information can even can help someone else steer clear of an embarrassing gaff or misstep.

How to Identify Malicious Gossip in the Workplace

Identifying malicious gossip vs. genuine concern is usually pretty easy. Gossip is divisive and fraught with drama. Gossipers are often trying to cut down others, make excuses for their own shortcomings, or make up for an inferiority complex. The purpose of gossip isn’t to build up and help others, but to tear them down and allow the gossiper to appear like they’re in a superior position.

So how do you know for sure if you’re gossiping or just passing along information?

First of all, look at the intention and whom you’re sharing the “news” with. If you’re going to your boss with a genuine concern about a coworker or if you’re seeking guidance on a problem, then it’s probably not gossip. If you’re sharing something that was told to you in confidence, speaking to someone who’s not directly involved in the situation, or passing something on to make yourself look or feel better (or to make the other person look or feel bad), then it’s gossip. Gossip is no way to get ahead at work.

Examine your intention and if you stand to benefit from smearing someone’s reputation or from making others question their integrity. Have you addressed your concerns with the person directly? Have you put it out on the table and tried to work through your conflicts? Or are you throwing the “deal with it” ball in someone else’s court? Are you telling your boss or coworkers about someone’s behavior in the hopes they’ll intervene and “save” you or think more highly of you? Are you acting on your own insecurities?

When we engage in this damaging pattern of spreading malicious gossip in the workplace, hurting others, or swooping in to fix someone’s hurt feelings, we’re in the Drama Triangle.

Dealing with Soap-Opera-Level Office Drama

When we’re intrigued by someone else’s potential drama, whether it’s information about their relationship or job performance, we’re acting as a spectator. If we’re blowing confidentiality and perpetuating negativity, chances are we don’t have enough action in our own lives or we’re used to operating in the Drama Triangle.

Behavioral theorist Stephen Karpman explains the Drama Triangle as the classic pattern of Good Guy (the Victim), Bad Guy (the Persecutor) and the person who swoops in to save the Victim (the Rescuer). Everyone caught in a Drama Triangle feeds off the Triangle itself. Just as triangles are the strongest structure in geometry, a drama triangle can be hard to break out of.

Often we engage in this pattern because we’re not approaching situations out of legitimate concern, but out of schadenfreude, literally meaning “harm-joy” or happiness at another’s misfortune.

Schadenfreude is why people love to stay in the Drama Triangle. It’s the reason you may end up the playing the Persecutor, constantly gossiping about others. Or alternatively, it may cause you to play off the gossiper’s words, swooping in as the Rescuer to “save” the subject of the story. Whether you’re the Victim, the Villain, or the Hero of the story, there’s a distinct absence of personal responsibility in all three roles.

The Drama Triangle in Action at Work

Think about it. Susan comes into your office to tell you about a relationship issue Stan shared with her in confidence. If you engage with Susan and say, “Oooh, I thought he and his wife were having problems! That explains why his work’s been going downhill,” or “Well, I heard he’s been out late drinking a lot,”—you’re playing into the drama. Even if you want to come in as Rescuer and help Stan or stand up to Susan and defend him, you aren’t acting from a sense of personal responsibility.

If Stan’s problems aren’t directly affecting you or your team at work, then it’s not your responsibility to involve yourself with his life. If his performance has become a concern or if you’re trying to balance different personality types at the office, then going to him directly and addressing the issue head-on would be much more productive than discussing it behind closed doors.

In all relationships, work, romantic or otherwise, each party is responsible for their own emotions and role. By shifting to gossip, you may be trying to blame someone else, make someone feel guilty, or defend your actions or emotions rather than facing them and working through them in a productive, growth-oriented manner. Gossip causes us to tread water and churn in the same pool rather than swimming forward and past the problem.

Gossip isn’t worth it—and it does nothing for our personal and professional growth.

Listen to this episode here on BlogTalkRadio or here on iTunes.
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Join Us For Foundations Training Weekend!

To learn more about staying out of the Drama Triangle and taking personal responsibility, join us for an upcoming Foundations Training Weekend. We’ll talk about ways you can energize your work life and keep your life moving in a positive direction.

Learn more about Wright Living’s Career & Leadership Coaching in Chicago & Career Coaching Courses in Chicago.

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

5 Conflict Handling Styles for
Constructive Interpersonal Conflicts

Life is full of conflict—and we all have different conflict-handling styles. Whether you’re someone who dislikes conflict or someone who jumps in, rolls up their sleeves and engages, conflict is inevitable.

Conflict is a vital part of growth. In fact, one could pose that conflict IS growth. When a seed is planted, it must push its way through the ground toward sunlight. It must find a path through the dirt. It has to resist pests, drought and storms just to grow. Just like a seed, we must engage in conflict to grow and develop.

Growth is tough stuff. It’s not always pleasant and it doesn’t come easy. You might feel you and your partner are often engaged in conflict where you say terrible things to each other you later regret. Maybe you get passive-aggressive, shut down and give your partner the hidden middle finger. Maybe you play the blame game, telling each other things like, “You’re just like your dad,” or, “You NEVER do such and such…”

Whatever conflict you’re facing, one thing’s for sure: most partners have different conflict-handling styles, and some tend to play into others more clearly. In fact, just like a magnet, some conflict styles are drawn out by other styles. At work, you might be a Competitor or a Negotiator, but at home, you might be an Avoider. It’s important to identify these conflict-handling styles so we can better understand them and learn how to navigate the roadblocks that might come up as we’re stretching ourselves toward the sun.

The 5 Conflict Handling Styles: Explained

There are five conflict-handling styles: Avoiders, Competitors, Negotiators, Pleasers and Synergizers. Each of these types has specific traits—and there’s no type that’s “wrong” or “bad.” In many situations, different conflict-handling styles are appropriate and can even be seen as strengths.

We discuss the importance of conflicts and engagement in our new book, The Heart of the Fight. Conflict can actually strengthen relationships and help reenergize your connection. The goal of conflict should be to fight FOR the relationship rather than against, and to play by the rules of engagement—essentially to fight fair. To understand the way you fit into conflict, you must understand the different conflict-handling styles.

1. Avoiders

Avoiders can identify when a situation isn’t worth engaging in or pursuing. They pick their battles. Avoiders would also rather just put their head in the sand and pull back (unlike Pleasers). In most scenarios with Avoiders, we’re engaged in a lose/lose situation. The Avoider is too ambivalent to fight for a win, and the other party doesn’t have a chance to win because no one’s engaged with them. Some Avoiders think they are Pleasers, but if they become passive-aggressive, then the truth is, they’re simply practicing conflict avoidance.

2. Pleasers

Pleasers, on the other hand, want to make their partner happy. They tend to put their partner’s happiness above their own. While this is kind and very altruistic, it’s also a recipe for passive aggression and resentment. The Pleaser isn’t acting in a way that meets their own needs and yearnings—they’re simply doing what they think will make everyone else happy. They tend to be engaged in what we call a lose/win situation. They lose on the outcome so the relationship can win. While this is, of course, okay sometimes, it’s not ideal in all situations.

3. Negotiators

Negotiators are engaged in a win-some/lose-some balance. While this may seem ideal, there are times when negotiations can result in a mediocre outcome, pleasing neither party. For example, if a couple is arguing over dinner and one wants sushi and one wants steak, negotiating a deal where you both go to a burger joint might result in no one being happy with their dinner. It’s a small example, but when it comes to negotiation, there’s always the risk neither party will end up satisfied.

4. Competitors

Competitors are engaged in a win/lose battle. They want to win and they want to win all the time. While this can be great when we want to win the championship, we might be emotionally knocking our partner out, so we’re left standing alone holding the victory cup. The outcome doesn’t result in an ideal situation for the relationship. You might be the winner, but the relationship loses. Competition can drive us and keep us sharp. It can keep us moving toward the things we want. Maybe you’re right, but you might also end up alone.

5. Synergizers

Lastly, we have Synergizers. Synergizers are looking for a win/win situation. They’re working toward the goals of the relationship and trying to find a balance that acknowledges the yearnings of both parties. They listen. They share their vision with their partner. They acknowledge their partner’s role and the importance of the feelings of those around them. We should all be perfect Synergizers, but of course, the drawback is it takes time to get to that point. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Conflict Handling Styles: Each Style’s Strengths

Each of the conflict-handling styles can be appropriate in certain situations. Getting down to the bottom of each situation can help you understand the heart of the fight. While synergy is the ideal state, it’s all about give-and-take and working together toward an ideal outcome. It’s not going to happen right away. It requires communication and understanding. It requires both parties to be on board and working together.

A skilled Negotiator can be a wonderful asset in a relationship when you’re raising teenagers together. In a work situation, you might find your Negotiator skills are highly valued and folks walk away from interactions feeling there was a mutual benefit.

If you’re a Pleaser, your caring and nurturing side is strong. You’re probably sensitive to the needs of others and you read their emotions well. Those who engage with you will be drawn to your fun and lively style.

Avoiders will have an easy time circumnavigating typical “drama” and sweating the small stuff as it comes up. At times, conflict avoidance comes from a place of suppressing your feelings and trying not to “rock the boat” per se, but it can also come from being able to quickly discern whether a situation merits addressing or if you can just avoid and move on.

Competitors can get what they want when they want it. Again, in business, this might serve you very well. You might get the deals you want, drive sales, and make purchasing decisions that can save your company big bucks. You might also drive certain types away because you push too hard. It’s a fine balance.

Understanding the different conflict-handling styles can give you insight into your relationships with your partner and your children, as well as at the office. It’s not holding back on conflict, it’s moving forward with it and learning to embrace it. It’s using conflict to propel you toward an ideal state within your relationship. It takes work, but it’s well worth the effort.

For more on engaging in productive conflict, moving toward the things you want and discovering your conflict handling style, click here to learn more about our next More Life Training. Learn how to strengthen your relationships, reach for the things you desire, unlock your potential, and live your best life.

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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Why Couples Fight
About Money Problems

What’s one of the most common couples’ arguments? You guessed it: money problems. We call it “dueling over dollars.”


These financial feuds range from, “You’re such a tightwad!” to “What were you thinking? We can’t afford that!” When we mix money and relationships, it can seem hard to get on the same financial page as our partner.

(We discuss this and 14 other common couples’ fights in our book, The Heart of the Fight—available now.)

Why Couples Fight About Money: It Runs Deep

What are the real reasons we fight about money? Some of us have a fear there will never be enough. This scarcity mentality can cause us to be tightfisted with our budget. Perhaps you often witnessed your mother or father struggle to pay the bills, so this concept of ‘never having enough’ was deeply ingrained into you from the time you were a child.

On the other hand, maybe money came easy to you, so you never had to worry about it. Consequently, you still don’t sweat it much (but your partner does, much to your frustration). Or perhaps spending money and shopping is a soft addiction you use to self-soothe and zone out rather than deal with problems. I’ve seen couples where one member is so driven to spend money that he or she attempts to completely hide it from their partner, even going as far as to intercept credit card statements (indicating a larger communication problem).

Whatever your views on money, it goes much deeper than simply enjoying shopping or being fiscally conservative. Our “dueling over dollars” (like many common couples fights) is tied into our yearnings. Perhaps you yearn to be socially affirmed, so you want to “keep up with the Joneses,” or perhaps you’re yearning to be appreciated. Perhaps you yearn for a sense of security and stability.

Our yearnings stem from our early primal instinct to always be sure we have enough and our fear of scarcity. Because money is attached to our very survival and our ability to acquire food, shelter, and even a mate, these primal impulses take over, sending off major alarms in our brain, which can cause some real knock-down-drag-out fights.

Couples Fighting: A Lack of Honesty and Trust = Serious Symptoms

One of the common undercurrents of financial feuds is the sense that one partner isn’t being completely honest with the other. If your spouse withdraws money from your account or hides purchases from you, there’s definitely deception going on. Similarly, if you find out your spouse is complaining about how broke you are, but your bank account is flush, you might feel they’re withholding information or vying for control.

At the true heart of these financial miscommunications is a lack of trust. It has nothing to do with a few dollars spent or unspent, and it can’t be resolved with a half-hearted promise to “do better next time.”

We call these broken promises “deception perception” fights. These can be extremely painful fights, but to really understand the conflict, the couple must drill down to the heart of the matter and realize what they’re really, truly fighting about.

After these areas of insecurity, distrust, and deception are unveiled, it can be very healing for couples to address the core of the problem. While deception and broken promises are painful to discuss and discover, they can open up the pathway to greater understanding and communication in the future.

Understanding & Identifying Our Core Beliefs

Our core beliefs are formed when we’re very young. The majority of our personality is actually formed by age 6 or 7. These early beliefs are often based on our limited perceptions as children. We’re not able to discern that Dad’s anger had to do with a rough day at the office or that Mom’s stress wasn’t directed at us. As children, we’re the center of our own universe. Each experience comes in, gets processed, and forms the basis of our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us.

As we get older, we add in societal beliefs and practices, plus the way we perceive our role within our social circle. Cumulatively, these experiences add up to our core beliefs, which can also be limiting beliefs. For example, when we feel we need to hold ourselves back or suppress our emotions, a limiting core belief might be the root. Fear of taking risks can stem from a belief of inadequacy, or a belief that we’re “not enough” or “too much.”

Similarly, fears about money often stem from a belief that the world is a place of scarcity and there is not enough to go around. If you didn’t have enough food, your needs weren’t met, or you didn’t feel secure in your living arrangements during childhood, you might carry those feelings over to today, even if reality dictates these beliefs aren’t true. With a healthy and full bank account, you may still have a scarcity mentality.

The Real Reason Why Couples Fight About Money Problems

We’re inherently drawn to those who trigger our core beliefs. Relationships are the crucible with which we are formed into a more complete person. During the transformation process, we’re forced to face some of these inner conflicts and beliefs, which manifest themselves in our interactions with our partner.

The great thing about conflict is how it forces us to really examine ourselves. Productive, meaty, hands-on conflict engages us. It forces us to look deep into our own abyss and understand where our beliefs come from and why. Living a full, engaged life means having a partner who brings out these conflicts and is a great sparring partner.

We can bounce our beliefs off our partner and wrestle with them to find our truths. This struggle and constant provocation is actually how we grow and evolve. If our partner doesn’t challenge us, we become stagnant and stop developing. We often choose a partner because they’re able to help us complete our unfinished growth and development, so we can find out who we can truly become.

So the next time you find yourself dueling over dollars (or engaged in any conflict), take a step back to examine your yearnings and core beliefs. It’s never just as simple as wanting a balanced checkbook. The conflict may be born from a desire to be acknowledged or to feel safe and cared for. It might stem from our belief that we don’t have enough or that our needs aren’t being met. Uncovering the deeper core to our conflicts is exciting because it’s the way growth is launched—it opens the path so the real work can begin!

To find out more about strengthening your relationship and unlocking your personal power, please join us for our next More Life Training. Visit to learn more about this opportunity and others. Email us at if you have a question or if you’d like us to address a specific topic during our Wright Living weekly podcast. Let us know how you’re finding your own happiness!

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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.



How Do You Deal With
Conflict in Your Relationship?

We’re all faced with two forms of conflict in life: 1.) Productive and creative conflict, which moves us toward our goals, and 2.) Destructive and unresolvable conflict that builds up without resolution.

In our latest book, The Heart of the Fight, we explore how many of us are raised with the notion that conflict is always bad and should be avoided. In reality, if you follow the rules of engagement and fight FOR the relationship (rather than against), conflict is healthy and productive.

The Conflict Monster

When we avoid conflict, our resentments become bigger and bigger, growing into this explosive monster ready to leap out full-force at our loved ones sometime down the road. Conflict has to be aired and brought out in the open. Otherwise, we see passive-aggressive actions, bitterness, and resentment eroding that connection between two people and creating distance over time.

There’s also another kind of monster: the person who ignites destructive conflict in a relationship because they’re a bully or acting too dominant. Beating the other person up emotionally or constantly tearing them down can also destroy a relationship. Relationships are based on mutual respect and love. If you love someone, you don’t dominate them. You might not agree with them, but you don’t engage in overt bullying or mean behavior.

In either case, it’s time to rid yourself of your monster. Most often, bringing conflict into the open is a win-win situation. Conflict brings out our deeper yearnings and feelings that might not already be in the light. When everyone is open and honest and engaging in the conflict, issues can be addressed and discussed. And yes, you can even fight about them (as long as you follow the rules of engagement)!

The Rules of Engagement

We’ve developed a set of rules to help you better engage in productive relationships. (We talk about these a lot in The Heart of the Fight!) Three of the most important are: 1. You must assume 100% responsibility for your own happiness and satisfaction, 2. No one gets more than 50% of the blame, and 3. Agree with and express the truth, always.

Think about how you engage with your partner when you’re fighting. Do you follow these rules of engagement?

When we start slinging around blame or saying, “It’s all your fault,” or “You did that on purpose,” we aren’t taking responsibility for our part in the situation. Similarly, if we cower down and say, “You’re always right, and I’m so stupid and wrong,” we’re taking more blame than our fair share. Blame is always equal for both parties.

Why is blame equal? Because each party is 100% responsible for their own satisfaction, meaning that if something isn’t satisfying you, it’s your job to bring it up and get it out in the open. If you are 100% responsible for your own satisfaction, you can’t blame the other guy for “making” you feel a certain way. It’s up to you to take control of your emotions and get your yearnings out there. If your yearnings aren’t being met, it’s up to you to speak up and say, “Hey, I need this!”

You must always agree with the truth as it comes up in conflict. This can be difficult, but it’s also a matter of trust. It’s okay to be angry about the other person’s rightness in the argument or be annoyed about a situation and express that, but you still have to admit the truth when it’s there. Admitting the truth shows you are trustworthy and keeps trust in the relationship.

Understanding the Deeper Conflict in Your Relationship

We each come into relationships with our own history and baggage. Maybe it’s something you’ve experienced from siblings, the way your dad reacted to finances, or the way your mother withheld physical affection. Everyone has a past, so when we walk into a relationship, we’re not a blank slate—we’re the whole of our history, our interactions, and our emotional experiences.

We have to understand that our partner is walking into the relationship carrying his or her own history and emotional “stuff.” When we put them together, conflict is going to rise. There’s always a balance for power and control. We spend the first years of a relationship just trying to get a handle on our dynamic and wrestling with how we can resolve our needs and meet the needs of our partner.

Essentially, we are bound to be involved in conflict. Conflict can either result in growth and productivity or damage and destruction. The choice is all yours.

If you’re communicating honestly and openly with your partner, then you’re going to let them know when they do something hurtful. You’re also going to let them know you appreciate them and try to listen to their truths carefully and openly.

We hold back because we fear the reaction or the conflict. Then we go around giving our partner the hidden middle finger, expecting them to pick up on our cues and sense something is wrong. This kind of hidden behavior doesn’t get the message across. Instead, we need to take 100% of the responsibility for our own emotions and tell our partner how we feel.

Engage in the conflict and allow it to help you discover your personal power and energize your life.

Join us our upcoming More Life Training (March 11th-March 13th in Chicago, Illinois) to learn how you can ignite the world around you.

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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

How to Deal with
Actions in Relationships

Everyone is guilty of passive-aggressive actions now and again. How many times have we been mad at our partner and chosen to enact the silent treatment?

Or how many times have we done something we just KNOW is going to piss them off (…without being too obvious about it)?

Unfortunately, we don’t always take the high road in our partnerships. Sometimes we engage in unfair warfare.

I’m not talking about those moments when you’re too mad to say anything and you need a little break or some space to cool off. In such a case, articulate, “I need some space,” and take a breather. Taking a quiet moment can be healthy.

I’m talking about the times when you decide to stop talking because “that’ll show her”—or those moments when you bring up something to “shame” your partner in front of others because you know he’s not in a position to fight back with an audience. Yes, these are those passive-aggressive actions, or as we like to call them: “The Hidden Middle Finger.”

Hidden Middle Fingers

We’ve all been there before: we’re no longer fighting fair and we’re not following the rules of engagement. In our new book, The Heart of the Fight, we explore 15 common couples’ fights and reveal the skills you need to navigate successful, growth-focused conflict in relationships.

When you choose to shut down and stonewall your partner, you’re not just making yourself “feel better” by “showing” him or her. These silent middle fingers to our partner send a powerful and not-so-subtle message. Unfortunately, the message isn’t one of love and engagement—it’s not a message articulating our yearnings to see and be seen, to need and be needed. Instead, it’s a way of trying to force our partner to feel bad.

Silence speaks volumes in relationships; it’s much more damaging than healthy conflict. It sounds counterintuitive, but un-hiding your “middle finger” and getting that conflict out in the open can help things move along in a more engaged, productive manner.

Available NOW on The Heart of the Fight: A Couple’s Guide to Fifteen Common Fights, What They Really Mean, and How They Can Bring You Closer.

Life = Conflict

Every relationship has conflict—friendships, marriages, parenting, and partnerships. It’s a natural part of life. Any time we interact with others, there are both expectations being met and expectations not being met. Desires are realized and broken.

Conflict comes up when two people have a different viewpoint, a different desire, or a different need. If you’re engaged, fully involved, and honest in your relationship, then conflict should be a regular occurrence. None of us is so keen at recognizing every need of our partner (or of any other human being) that we can sail through life conflict-free. We all have desires and yearnings.

The key to dealing with conflict is to recognize it can be a productive way to learn and grow within our relationships. Biologist Elisabet Sahtouris discusses how conflict is a natural and inherent part of life itself. Even cells are in a state of division and reproduction, as they split during mitosis and develop into more cells. Conflict is a natural and necessary part of growth and development.

Passive-Aggressive Act…or Honest Mistake?

When you find yourself thinking, “That’ll show him,” or, “She did [x], so I deserve to do [y],” you’re not engaging in productive discussions that move the relationship forward. Burning your husband’s steak when you know he likes it rare, or bringing home your wife’s car with an empty gas tank—these little acts can seem so small they almost become invisible.

They are all, however, small acts of warfare. Withholding our emotions and affection and ignoring the yearnings of our partner on purpose are small ways we erode the strength of our connection and the trust of our partner.

Now, perhaps you didn’t fill up the car just because it didn’t occur to you. Perhaps you lost track of what was cooking on the stove and you accidentally burned the steak. Those things happen. You are not responsible for your partner’s emotions and they aren’t responsible for yours. As long as your intentions are good, mistakes happen.

However, if you both follow the rules of engagement, you should be interacting with each other in an honest, open manner and always assuming goodwill. Passive-aggressive acts don’t fit. If you’re assuming goodwill and you and your partner are both being honest, then little acts of war won’t and can’t happen.

This means when your partner does something to really push your buttons, you have to speak up and tell them. Rather than not calling them back or being a little quieter than usual and hoping they’ll notice, you have to pipe up and say, “I don’t like this. This made me angry.”

What Are You Holding Back?

Being honest doesn’t mean always saying what makes the other person happy, or telling your partner exactly what they want to hear. It means you’re going to say some things that will make your partner angry—and that’s perfectly okay.

Flipping the silent middle finger never resolves an issue or deepens the relationship. Issues must be brought out into the open to be expressed and addressed. As your social and emotional intelligence grows within your relationship, so does your ability to communicate openly with your partner.

Just like compounding hurts and resentments can drive you apart, addressing these feelings can help bring you back together. It might be easier to just burn the steak or ignore the gas warning light, but in truth, these passive-aggressive acts mean you’re just spinning your wheels and going nowhere. Bring your feelings out in the open and make them known so you and your partner can focus on all the things that really matter and continue to grow—together.

To continue the conversation on engaging with others and to discover ways to bring out your best self, click here to learn more about our next More Life Training.

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Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.