7 Ways to Improve Your Relationship


Good relationships don’t just happen. I’ve heard many of my clients state that, “If I have to work at it, then it’s not the right relationship.” This is not a true statement, any more than it’s true that you don’t have to work at good physical health through exercise, eating well, and stress reduction.

I’ve discovered 7 choices you can make that will not only improve your relationship, but can turn a failing relationship into a successful one.


This is the most important choice you can make to improve your relationship. This means that you learn how to take responsibility for your own feelings and needs. This means that instead of trying to get your partner to make you feel happy and secure, you learn how to do this for yourself through your own thoughts and actions. This means learning to treat yourself with kindness, caring, compassion, and acceptance instead of self-judgment. Self-judgment will always make you feel unhappy and insecure, no matter how wonderfully your partner is treating you.

For example, instead of getting angry at your partner for your feelings of abandonment when he or she is late, preoccupied and not listening to you, not turned on sexually, and so on, you would explore your own feelings of abandonment and discover how you might be abandoning yourself.

When you learn how to take full, 100% responsibility for yourself, then you stop blaming your partner for your upsets. Since blaming one’s partner for one’s own unhappiness is the number one cause of relationship problems, learning how to take loving care of yourself is vital to a good relationship.


Treat others the way you want to be treated. This is the essence of a truly spiritual life. We all yearn to be treated lovingly – with kindness, compassion, understanding, and acceptance. We need to treat ourselves this way, and we need to treat our partner and others this way. Relationships flourish when both people treat each other with kindness. While there are no guarantees, often treating another with kindness brings kindness in return. If your partner is consistently angry, judgmental, uncaring and unkind, then you need to focus on what would be loving to yourself rather than reverting to anger, blame, judgment, withdrawal, resistance, or compliance. Kindness to others does not mean sacrificing yourself.

Always remember that taking responsibility for yourself rather than blaming others is the most important thing you can do. If you are consistently kind to yourself and your partner, and your partner is consistently angry, blaming, withdrawn and unavailable, then you either have to accept a distant relationship, or you need to leave the relationship. You cannot make your partner change – you can only change yourself.


When conflict occurs, you always have two choices regarding how to handle the conflict: you can open to learning about yourself and your partner and discover the deeper issues of the conflict, or you can try to win, or at least not lose, through some form of controlling behavior. We’ve all learning many overt and subtle ways of trying to control others into behaving the way we want: anger, blame, judgment, niceness, compliance, caretaking, resistance, withdrawal of love, explaining, teaching, defending, lying, denying, and so on. All the ways we try to control create even more conflict. Remembering to learn instead of control is a vital part of improving your relationship.

For example, most people have two major fears that become activated in relationships: the fear of abandonment – of losing the other - and the fear of engulfment – of losing oneself. When these fears get activated, most people immediately protect themselves against these fears with their controlling behavior. But if you chose to learn about your fears instead of attempt to control your partner, your fear would eventually heal. This is how we grow emotionally and spiritually – by learning instead of controlling.


When people first fall in love, they make time for each other. Then, especially after getting married, they get busy. Relationships need time to thrive. It is vitally important to set aside specific times to be together – to talk, play, make love. Intimacy cannot be maintained without time together.


Positive energy flows between two people when there is an “attitude of gratitude.” Constant complaints creates a heavy, negative energy, which is not fun to be around. Practice being grateful for what you have rather than focusing on what you don’t have. Complaints create stress, while gratitude creates inner peace, so gratitude creates not only emotional and relationship health, but physical health as well.


We all know that “work without play makes Jack a dull boy.” Work without play makes for dull relationships as well. Relationships flourish when people laugh together, play together, and when humor is a part of everyday life. Stop taking everything so seriously and learn to see the funny side of life. Intimacy flourishes when there is lightness of being, not when everything is heavy.


A wonderful way of creating intimacy is to do service projects together. Giving to others fills the heart and creates deep satisfaction in the soul. Doing service moves you out of yourself and your own problems and supports a broader, more spiritual view of life.

If you and your partner agree to these 7 choices, you will be amazed at the improvement in your relationship.

The Five Love Languages

A summary of Dr. Gary Chapman’s principles


Discovering Your Primary Love Language
What is your primary love language? What makes you feel most loved by your partner? Three ways to discover this include;

1. What does your partner do or fail to do that hurts you most deeply?
The opposite of what hurts you most is probably your love language. 

2. What have you most often requested of your mate? 
The thing you have most often requested is likely the thing that would make you feel most loved.

3. In what way do you regularly express love to your partner? 
Your method of expressing love may be an indication that would also make you feel loved.

The First Love Language: Words of Affirmation
Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation, are powerful communicators of love. They are best expressed as straightforward statements of affirmation. The object of love is not getting something you want but doing something for the well-being of the one you love. But when we receive affirming words we are far more likely to be motivated to reciprocate. 

Encouraging words means “to inspire courage.” All of us have areas in which we feel insecure. We often lack courage, and that lack of courage can hinder us from accomplishing the positive things that we would like to do. The latent potential within your partner in his or her areas of insecurity await your encouraging words. Encouragement requires empathy and seeing the world from your mate’s perspective. We must first learn what is important to our partner. Only then can we give encouragement. 

Kind words. If we are to communicate love verbally, we must use kind words. Sometimes our voices are saying one thing, but our tone of voice is saying another. Your partner will usually interpret your message based on tone of voice, not the words you use.

Words of forgiveness. Love doesn’t keep a score of wrongs. Love doesn’t bring up past failures. None of us is perfect. In a relationship we do not always do the best or right thing. We have sometimes done and said hurtful things to our partner. We cannot erase the past. We can only confess it and agree that it was wrong. We can ask forgiveness and try to act differently in the future. If you have been wronged by your partner and they have confessed and requested forgiveness, then you have a choice. You can extend justice or forgiveness. If you choose forgiveness, intimacy can be restored. Forgiveness is the way of love. We can choose to live today free from the failures of yesterday. Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a commitment. It is a choice to show mercy, not to hold the offense up against the offender. 

Humble words. Love makes requests, not demands. While dating or in marriage, you and your mate are equal adult partners. We are not perfect to be sure. If we are to develop an intimate relationship, we need to know each other’s desires. The way we express those desires, however, is all-important. If they come across as demands, we have erased the possibility of intimacy and will drive our partner away. If, however, we make known our needs and desires as requests, we are giving guidance, not ultimatums. When you make a request of your partner, you are affirming his or her worth and abilities. A request introduces the element of choice. Your mate may choose to respond to your request or to deny it, because love is always a choice. Your partner may comply with a demand, but it is not an expression of love. A request creates the possibility for an expression of love, whereas a demand suffocates that possibility.

Some tips: Give indirect words of affirmation about your partner to others when s/he is not present. Affirm your mate in front of others. Consider an experiment - write out a list of positive traits behaviors of your partner. For one week suspend all criticisms. Instead give daily verbal appreciation of their positive traits and behaviors.

Words of Affirmation
• Let me express myself without agreeing or punishing
• Let me know about your day
• Tell me about when you feel proud of me and why
• Tell me how you feel, your intimate thoughts
• Tell me when you like the way I look.
• Talk directly to me about your feelings – don’t clam up
• Compliment me in front of others
• Tell me I’m doing a good job.
• Tell me something you appreciate about me.
• Say you’re sorry.
• Picture something positive about our future together.

The Second Love Language: Quality Time
Togetherness. Togetherness has to do with focus, giving your mate your undivided attention (not sitting on the couch watching TV together). It means that we are doing something together and that we are giving our full attention to the other person. The activity in which we are both engaged is incidental, it is simply a vehicle that creates the sense of togetherness.

Quality Conversation. Sympathetic dialogue involves shared experiences, thoughts, feelings, and desires in a friendly, uninterrupted context. Quality conversation focuses on what we are hearing - drawing out your partner’s thoughts, listening sympathetically, asking questions (who, what, how, where, gentle why) with a genuine desire to understand.

• Maintain eye contact when your mate is talking.
• Don’t listen to your partner and do something else at the same time.
• Listen for feelings (glad, mad, sad, bad or afraid)
• Observe your partner’s body language.
• Refuse to interrupt.

Learning to Talk. Self-revelation does not come easy for some of us. Awareness and expression of our emotions (glad, mad, sad, bad or afraid) is essential for a healthy relationship. Emotions are neither good not bad. They are simply our psychological responses to the events of life. In each of life’s events, we have emotions, thoughts, desires, and eventually actions. It is the expression of this process that we call self-expression. 

Personality Types. How we communicate has a great deal to do with our personality type and gender. Are you a “Dead Sea” or a “Babbling Brook?” Men and women tend to have basic differences in how and what they communicate, and how they problem solve. Become aware of your own and your partner’s personality style and shape your communication accordingly.

Quality Activities. These can include anything in which one or both of you has an interest. The emphasis is not on what you are doing but on why you are doing it. The purpose is to experience something together, to walk away from it feeling “My partner cares for me. S/he was willing to do something with me that I enjoy, and did it with a positive attitude.” The essential ingredients in a quality activity are: at least one of you wants to do it, the other is willing to do it, both of you know why you are doing it - to express love by being together. 

Does quality activities mean careful planning? Yes. Does it mean we have to give up some individual activities? Perhaps. Does it mean we have to do some things we don’t particularly enjoy? Certainly. Is it worth it? Without a doubt.

Some Tips. Get your “Daily Minimum Requirement” - establish a daily sharing time in which each of you talks about three things that happened that day and how you feel about them. Consider taking a personality test (Myers-Briggs, 16 PF, Taylor-Johnson) and then discussing the implications of your personality types in your relationship. Read “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” together and discuss each chapter.

Quality Time
• Come home for dinner together
• Plan time to be alone with me
• Focus on what I’m saying – rather than being distracted when I talk
• Read a relationship book with me
• Make weekend plans with me
• Be protective of our time together

The Third Love Language: Receiving Gifts
Gift giving. Gift giving is a universal part of the love relationship, it is a fundamental expression of love that transcends cultural barriers. You must be thinking of someone to give them a gift, and the gift itself is a symbol of that thought. It doesn’t matter whether it costs money, gifts may be purchased, found, or made. What is important is that you thought of your partner. And it is not just the thought implanted in the mind that counts, but the thought expressed in actually securing the gift and giving it as an expression of love. 

The Gift of Self. The gift of self (or presence) is an intangible gift that can speak more loudly than a gift that can be held in one’s hand. Being there when your partner needs you is a priceless gift, your body becomes the symbol of your love.

Some Tips. Make a list of all the gifts your partner has expressed excitement about receiving through the years (given by you or others). Recruit the help of family members who know your mate. Don’t wait for a special occasion. If you are a “penny-pincher” you may resist spending money on gifts. Remember you don’t have to spend a lot and the money you do spend is well invested.

Giving / Receiving Gifts
• Flowers
• Small surprise gifts
• Buy me my favorite magazine

The Fourth Love Language: Acts of Service
“Serve one another in love.”(Galatians 5:13). Acts of Service means doing things you know your partner would like you to do. You seek to please them by serving, which requires thought, planning, time, effort, and energy. But requests for service cannot be demands, manipulation by guilt or coercion by fear. There are three principles to keep in mind:

Remember that what we do for each other before marriage is no indication of what we will do after marriage. Before marriage, we are carried along by the force of the “in-love” obsession. After marriage, we revert to being the people we were before we “fell in love.” Love is a choice and cannot be coerced. Each of us must decide daily to love or not to love our partners. If we choose to love, then expressing it in the way in which our partner requests will make our love most effective emotionally. Your partner’s criticisms about your behavior provide you with the clearest clue to his/her primary love language. People tend to criticize their mate most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need.

Overcoming Stereotypes. Learning the love language of acts of service will require some to reexamine their stereotypes of the roles of husbands and wives. A willingness to examine and change stereotypes is necessary in order to express love more effectively. Remember, there are no rewards for maintaining stereotypes. But there are tremendous benefits to meeting the emotional needs of your partner.

Some Tips. Make a list of three or four things you would like your partner to help with. Then exchange your lists. Don’t add any more than 1 request per month. Remember, your partner can only choose to do what is on the list, it cannot be demanded. This love language of service has different dialects. The acts of service that you are willing to do may not be the ones your mate needs most from you.

Acts of Service
• Groom yourself in preparing for time together
• Do one of my regular household chores
• Do tasks around the home

The Fifth Love Language: Physical Touch
Physical touch is a fundamental expression of love and meets an essential biological need within each of us. Holding hands, kissing, embracing, back rubs and sexual intimacy are all ways of communicating emotional love to your partner. Since touch receptors are located throughout the body, lovingly touching your mate just about anywhere can be an expression of love. But remember your touch does not always need to be sexual in nature or intent. 

Some Tips. Not all touches are created equal. Some will bring more pleasure to your mate than others. Your best instructor is your partner. Consider doing a sensate focus exercise. Caress your partner and try to discover the most sensitive areas of his/her body and the kind of stimulation s/he enjoys most. They may, for example, prefer a gentler touch, or perhaps a rougher one, than you yourself would enjoy. Your partner can use a “spectrum rating scale” to describe how positive or negative your touch is on different parts of their body. “1” up to “10” is for positive touch and “-1” down to “-10” is for negative touch. Remember, loving touch does not always need to lead to sexual intimacy. 

Keep in mind that a time of crisis is a particularly important time to extend the gift of touch to your partner. Embracing, holding hands, a reassuring kiss can be sorely needed encouragement during loss. 

If a back massage communicates love to your mate, then the time, money, and energy you spend in learning to be a good masseur or masseuse will be well invested. If sexual intimacy is your partner’s primary dialect, reading and discussing the art of sexual love making will enhance your expression of love. 

Physical Touch
• Spend more with being affectionate
• Tell me more about what pleases you sexually
• Show me affection that doesn’t lead to sex
• Hold me when I’m upset
• Give me a back rub
• Give me a foot massage
• Comb my hair


We hope that this handout has been helpful to you. At the Counseling Center of New Smyrna Beach we have several therapist who can assist you in getting the treatment you need. If we can be of help please call 386.423.9161 today. Start living your legacy!

Fighting: Let's Get It On! 6 Steps To Resolving And Winning Almost Any Fight

By Shane Porter 


Step 1 - Back Up Plan

Having a back-up plan before you step into a conflict is absolutely crucial. By having a plan B in your pocket prior to dealing with any conflict, you can remain confident that you can still move forward even if your negotiation fails. Remember that your plan B is your best solution that you can come up with on your own without having to talk with your counterpart. For the hostage negotiator, this could mean using the tactical team to take control by force. For two angry neighbors, this could mean going to court. Your plan B gives you the confidence to deal with your counterpart and the ability to move forward, whether you reach an agreement with them or not.

Step 2 - Emotional Control

Your anger is the biggest challenge towards winning the conflict. You need to control your anger by separating the person from the problem. Have empathy on the person for attacking you because their real anger lies in the problem, not with you. View the situation rationally without allowing anger into the equation. You always have to remember that if you react with anger—then you've lost the battle.

Step 3 - Defusing Their Anger

The other obstacle to overcome is your opponent's anger and frustration. These emotions are stopping them from seeing things rationally. Their primary focus is that they were wronged and now they want retribution— often from you. Think of their emotions like a pressure cooker on a stovetop. There are two ways of releasing the pressure: (1) you can pop the lid and the have the contents explode out of the pot from the sudden change in pressure, or (2) you can engage the pressure-release valve and slowly let that steam pressure out of the cooker which will enable you to open the lid without injury. The same is true for an angry person. You want to hit their pressure release switch by using active listening skills. Listen and acknowledge their concerns. Engage them in empathetic responses by trying to see the problem from their perspective. Paraphrase back to them what they told you in your own words. You will see a dramatic difference in their level of hostility as they get to vent their anger. This means you disarm them and end up winning.

Step 4 - Options

Now comes the time when you must reframe their position into interests. Do this by first reframing them from an enemy into a partner. Then reframe all their personal attacks on you back on the problem. Then finally, uncover their interests behind their demands with non-confrontational questions.

Step 5 - Reframing

Present options to your opponent and get them involved in the process of thinking about possibilities for a solution. You might have to present some various options that they have available to them. Strive for a cooperative effort to find mutually satisfying options that will benefit both parties.

Step 6 - Letting Them Choose Their Fate

Empower your opponent with the choice to make his or her own fate. Don't back them into a corner by telling them what to do. Everyone needs control over their own life otherwise they feel threatened. Let them pick the option that you both have discussed. If they still fail to comply at this point then ask them what the possible consequences are if no agreement can be made. As a last resort, use your back-up plan as an alternative to the negotiation.

Step 7 - Call CCNSB

If all else fails sometimes you need a professional mediator. At the Counseling Center of New Smyrna Beach we are trained to help people work through life's most challenging conflicts and problems. Give us a call, because nobody really likes to lose!

Couples, Relationship, & Marriage Counseling


Whether your relationship is in crisis, or you want to protect a good thing, expert relationship counseling and couples counseling help is right here.

Hello. My name is Shane Porter, President of the Counseling Center of New Smyrna Beach Couples Counseling, and if we were together right now, I would want to make sure that you know one extremely important thing about your marriage or relationship. 

The one important thing is that no matter what the situation is with your relationship or marriage, no matter how desperate things might seem, no matter what has happened, your relationship can experience healing.

It might not seem that way right now. If your relationship is in a place of hurt or pain, you are not alone. In fact, we live in times when many relationships are in trouble.

Relationship Problems:

Today, it is estimated that 50% of marriages end in divorce. Even worse is the number of marriages (and committed relationships) that are in emotional divorce or separation. 

Why? Because of the challenges relationships face today, such as communication problems, anger, dependency, jealousy, painful pasts, adultery, stress, overwhelming schedules, and uncertainty about a relationship's future are just a few of the things that can cause serious relationship problems.

Do these symptoms sound familiar to you? It is no secret that today,
relationships are hurting.

The real tragedy is that many relationships (or marriages) suffer for years without getting help, when change is right there at their fingertips.

Couples just don't know how to reach out and take it.

"My relationship needs help. Where do I turn?"

How do you find help when you feel like your relationship has hit bottom?

How do you heal a marriage when the pain between the two of you seems unbearable? When there is little love left?

Perhaps your marriage does not look that dark. Maybe you want to make improvement before there is a crisis.

Help is available for your relationship at CCNSB today.

First, I want to congratulate you on taking the first step to finding a relationship counselor. If you are reading this you are so close to making change happen in your relationship. Maybe it has taken you months to get this far, maybe it has taken years...

Either myself or one of the other excellent CCNSB counselors, will walk with you from this point on.

From this point on, you and your significant other do not struggle alone.

How is the Counseling Center of New Smyrna Beach Couples Counseling Experience Dramatically Better than the Rest?

CCNSB Marriage Counselors and Relationship Counselors, every year, help hundreds of couples from the greater Volusia area. We serve couples from Stetson University, UCF, DSC, ERAU, Halifax Hospital and Florida Hospital. Many of our clients are some of the top thinkers in the country who trust their most important relationships to the care provided by the Counseling Center of New Smyrna Beach. 

At CCNSB, we are focused on your relationship goals. Simply put, from the first phone call, to the first time you arrive at our office, you are always respected and treated with sensitive, professional care. 
We help our clients build better, more engaging, more successful relationships and marriages. And to do that, we look at improving relationships as both an art and a science.

CCNSB has the best and most qualified marriage counseling and psychotherapy professionals. 

Our Marriage Counselors:
• Have earned Masters or Doctoral (PH.D.) level degrees
• Are Licensed Mental Health or Medical Providers with the State of Florida
• Are authorities in the couples counseling field, many who have spoken across the country to mental health professionals
• Are authors in the field
• Have earned additional certifications and specializations
• Are always perfecting, refining, and fine-tuning their abilities, skills, and expertise.

No Waiting Lists: Your First Couples Counseling or Marriage Counseling Appointment is This Week.
We want your marriage or relationship to find the help and healing it needs.
You've made it this far, let us walk with you from this point...this point right here...until your relationship is where you want it to be. Until you have reached your relationship goals.

I, and the therapists at CCNSB, offer something no other marriage counselors, relationship psychotherapists, marriage and family therapist, psychologists, clinical social workers, or anyone else in the mental health counseling field can or will offer.

Call us today to schedule your first couples counseling session, and CCNSB will schedule your first session this week. If it is important enough for you to take the time to come in we will find the time to meet with you. This is something no other marriage counseling practice in New Smyrna Beach, Port Orange, Edgewater, Daytona Beach, Deland or the greater Volusia County area can offer.

We can only offer this because the Counseling Center of New Smyrna Beach Relationship Counselors believe helping you and your significant other get started with the counseling process is so important, that we're willing to move our personal schedules to make sure you get the help you need.

The way I see it is this: You worked up the motivation and courage to begin relationship counseling, the least we can do is help you receive your first couples counseling or marriage counseling session right away.

I hope you now know that there is hope and healing available. Don't suffer in a bad relationship. Don't wait until your relationship is beyond repair.

We really do want your relationship to find the help, care, information, education, or motivation it needs to grow. Let's begin right now. 


We hope that this handout has been helpful to you. At the Counseling Center of New Smyrna Beach we have several therapist who can assist you in getting the treatment you need. If we can be of help please call 386.423.9161 today. Start living your legacy!