The Basics

Couples Gps - playing Offense & Defense at the same time

"Offensive game", meaning, "We are proactive. We are putting our relationship (as Dr. Phil puts it) in "Project Status" - we are doing whatever it takes to find our way back to each other.”  This is the offensive game.

"Defensive game", means "We are, first, closing the back door (read more about this below) and second, getting control of out of control, toxic, communication. This is the defensive game.   

The combination of: closing the back door, ending toxic communication and resolving to do whatever it takes to find your way home (to each other) will result in a miraculous marriage.  There isn't even a question about this.  The only question will be about your willingness to follow the program.

Here’s how Dr. Phil puts it… "The quality of a relationship is a function of the extent to which it is built on a solid underlying friendship and meets the needs of the two people involved." Dr. Phillip McGraw

Close the Back Door

The Only Way Out is Through.

In most cases, when things get rough, there’s sort of a back door exit that starts forming in in your mind- “if I could just get out of this marriage, oh my goodness things would be so much better.” That back door in your mind opens to Hawaii and just keeps calling to you - palm trees, hula girls, sand, waves, freedom. Your current relationship, on the other hand, feels like Vietnam (in the 60’s that is). What’s the solution?  Close the back door. Board it up, barricade it and bring yourself back to the opportunity to love and grow that is right in front of you. The only path leading to what you really want is going to involve the love of your life- the one who’s eyes you looked into and “I do” when the preacher said “for better or for worse.”

If times get tough, It will take everything you’ve got- every part of you.  But, if part of you is already slipping out to what you think will be Hawaii, then you've already lost.  Turn your ship around.  Keep your promise.  Save your life.  Come through for yourself and your loved ones.  

I know it's hard!  It could be the hardest thing you've ever done, but close the back door.   


I know it's hard! It could be the hardest thing you've ever done, but close the back door.

By closing the back door, you’re gathering yourself back into this moment- every bit of spiritual, emotional and mental strength you’ll need to over come your fears, forgive, increase your discipline and heal your family. Perhaps just as important, in coming back (no matter how painful) you will discover a part of you you’ve never fully known- amazing strength, powerful character, foresight, patience, increased spirituality, a willingness to do what ever it takes to come through for your loved ones.  Experiencing this is like when Moses planted his staff into the ground (or in other words, his commitment) - and the red sea of the seeming impossible parted before the hosts of Israel. What a moment! This is the moment you are in right now! It is the moment you were born for!  

So if in this difficult period, you start entertaining thoughts of what “freedom” would feel like (as if leaving your spouse will make you free) - or muse on how wonderful it would be to find someone new (who you have “more in common” or who isn't as “narcissistic or stubborn”) then the barricades will come down, the back door will crack open and you slip out into what you think will be Hawaii. It’s not of course, but before you can realize that, the 100% of you required to heal your current relationship will start to fade and you will have lost everything.  

And when I say everything, I don’t just mean the relationship.  I mean everything you were born for, which has climaxed in this moment.  Close the back door!  Commit!  Face into the wind.  Don’t run away! Run directly into this very difficult situation. Because on the other side of it is not only the love you want, but the person you were born to become.  

Remember that what you are imagining is an exit from what you currently don't want, is really an entrance to much more of what you don't want!

Safety and security  
Let’s explore this idea of coming back from Hawaii further: The one decision you can make that will produce the feeling of safety required to work through your issues is this: commitment.  This is the big deal.  Commitment creates healing.  

And when does your commitment end?  When there is no one to commit to-  when it’s become apparent that your spouse is gone.  And you can only know if he or she is gone (or not) if you are committed.

Frozen Spouse
When we think of the expression "fight or flight" what we don't realize is that there are two other panic buttons; "resignation" (or "check out") and it's close cousin, "Freezing" (deer in the headlights).

A friend of mine is considering leaving her spouse and has been talking about it with him for quite some time.  She told a mutual friend ours that she's been trying to get her husband to improve.  She's suggested counseling.  She's tried to inspire him toward change, but with no success.  She feels at peace at this point.  She's ready to let him go.  After all, she's has "tried."

It's an interesting thing isn't it?  There's a huge difference between coming to your spouse and saying "I'm thinking about leaving you.  Would you be willing to do some counseling?" and "I'm committed to you and always will be.  I want to heal our relationship.  Would you be willing to do some counseling?"

When someone feels part of your soul has already begun slipping out the back door, he or she also quietly begins to die (as to this relationship).  He freezes.  His lifeline is being threatened.  To have you waffle on that one commitment that he needed more than anything else, is more than his rational mind can bear.  It is almost impossible for a man (or a woman) to bounce back with new, improved behavior when he feels he's already on death row.  

Don't kid yourself about this.  "Peace I give unto you.  Not as the world gives."  The real peace you seek comes in love, service, deep abiding commitment, patience and long suffering and finally crescendos in to two miracles - 1) Through your integrity- through keeping your promise you will uncloud your cloudy, palm tree filled mind and sharpen the very discernment you need to decide what is best.  2) You will send the very message of love and commitment that you yourself need so badly.  You will as Gandhi said, "be the solution."   

Click here for You Can Count On Me.

Wax on Wax off.jpg

it's about the circle, not the dot (wax on / Wax off)

How you do one thing is how you do everything.  We are not just working on the dot (your issues).  We are WAY working on the circle- the circle of your entire life.  In other words, we are working on what you're bringing to the issue. If you are up all night playing Nintendo, or eat donuts for breakfast, or have zero spiritual life etc. you will be bringing insanity to your issues. For this reason, "Path of Peace - GPS" isn’t as much about marital issues as it is about you as a person.  Let’s get you thinking straight. Let’s get your life working.  The Karate kid wasn’t ready for the challenges he faced until his own sense of self mastery began to emerge. So, wax on, wax off! Let’s get you breathing. THEN we’ll be ready for the difficult issues you face.

Listen (vs. defend)

I went to a seminar once.  It was 50 hours.  Very intense.  I loved it.  The presenter's name was Eleanor.   Eleanor was a world renowned relationship expert.  After 50 hours of training, she concluded with this statement (or something like it): “The very heart- the key- the secret to communication is this; one person talks and one person listens.”    

How can something so simple escape us so regularly?   Because we are too busy defending, as if we need to defend. 

I took a personality test years ago for my job as a personal coach with Dr. Denis Waitley’s “Winning for Life” team of coaches.  It was a 4 hour test, 800 questions, scored by a computer. The test was designed to keep you from kidding yourself and give you a clear look at how you were actually showing up in life.  The test was called the “Winslow.”  It measured us in 26 dimensions.   One of them was “Defensiveness.”  I scored 10- the very highest you could be.  I was as defensive of a human being as you could possibly be.  

After failing in my first marriage, it’s taken me almost my entire 7 years of marriage to Narelle to fully understand defensiveness and more importantly, to understand the solution.  

Because of this understanding, I cannot describe how wonderful communication can be now that I’ve come this far up the road in my ability to listen without defense.   I’m still not perfect at it, but I’ve got to tell you, when you get the question I’m about to ask you, you will be blown away by how fast things get better.  Here’s the question:

When it comes to listening, what have you got to lose?

Is that the coolest?  Because what’s the answer?  Nothing.  You’ve got absolutely nothing to lose in your determination to listen to understand.

Let me put it in another way: You’ve got nothing to lose other than your pride, your rightness and whatever protection you think you’re creating around your obviously shaky sense of self worth.  You can lose this.  You should lose this.  And if it takes you being on your knees with God, every day, asking him to show you just how much he loves you, and how much you’re worth to him, perfect! Then don’t come out of your room for a couple of weeks if that’s what it takes.  Because believe me, in the question of being able to listen to someone, even if what this person is saying is something you might be tempted to take personally- here’s the deal: You’ve got nothing to lose and you’ve got everything to gain.

That doesn’t mean you stand around while someone is ranting and raving.  That’s a whole different subject.  It means that when it’s time to talk- even when when the conversation includes someone's disappointment with you- this is your chance to rise up as a shaft of light and to love in a world of people not listening to each other.  

There’s a lot of talking going on in this world.  Just turn on Fox news or CNN and you’ll hear tons of talking, but not much listening.  Think of what you’re world will be like as you rise above the quagmire around you, open your ears, open your heart and realize how much good can and will occur as you determine to listen and to hear instead of defend.  

Having said all of this, you still have an even more important question than "what do I have to lose?" The question is, "Am I willing and/or even able to actually listen in this very moment.   As you go forward in this decision please get very familiar with Managing Incoming


Understanding the Power of Attachment   

The power of attachment is like nuclear energy.  It can light up the city (or your love), or blow it off the map and burn down your relationship.   

I once saw a study of couples with husbands in the military, soon to be deployed. The study showed that soon before separating from each other, couples are prone to arguments and conflicts.  You’d think two people, before separating, would be cleaving to each other, not fighting with each other. This study suggests a core truth.  We tend to figure out ways of beating our fears to the punch. 

To understand defensiveness, contention, emotional divorce etc you must understand the power of attachment   By nature, we attach- down to every fiber of our soul, we attach.  Our attachment is so deep and so powerful that it scares us, so we figure out ways to not fully attach- as Gay Hendricks says, to sabotage the “upper limit” of the joy we can experience with someone.   

What we want then, is to get sensitive to what conflict is really about.  It’s about choosing choosing distrust and then feeling disconnected and/or afraid of abandonment and threatened by this feeling.   Whatever you’re actually talking about isn’t the subject.  Notice this and then, in a path of peace, actually say it i.e. “Earlier when you ___________ it felt like you disconnected from me, or it felt like I wasn’t good enough to deserve your love and commitment etc.  I think what’s really going on right is that I’m anxious about this.” 

Dr. Sue Johnson (in “Hold Me Tight) agrees that we’ve got to come to see what the conversation is really about.  “Are you still there for me?”  “Are we still together?”  “Do I still have a home with you?”  “Is my world secure?”   This is what’s happening- not a conversation about money, or work or anything else.

4 elements to building your friendship

  • Serving each other.

  • Serving with each other (as discussed in the basics).

  • Building your emotional bank account with each other (making sure it's always in the positive).

  • Getting to know each other.

Getting to know each other is a particularly powerful step for two reasons: 
1) Getting to know you, makes me love you!
2) Feeling known by you makes me feel loved by you!

In getting to know each other you will discover one of the greatest comforts known to man; the companionship of a best friend.  Every other consideration, such as issues management or even finances can only work if this works: your friendship.   When your friendship is strong, your world is strong.  Your life is strong.  You will live longer and you will thrive on this earth, not just survive.

Getting to know someone ignites ever increasing love for this person.  Feeling known by this person ignites ever increasing feelings of love from this person. Truly, getting to know each other is an upward spiral.  

Getting to know someone is a large part of what builds your emotional bank account with this person. And when this account is high (way in the positive), every bump in road seems smaller, everything there is to work out seems to unravel more smoothly- every mistake that you each make is viewed with so much more patience and forgiveness. When your emotional bank account is high with each other, the trust is high.  And when the trust is high the "stories" you would other wise develop, get put on the shelf forever (or at least close). 

We recommend doing “Get to Know You” activities for at least least 10 minutes a week, or an hours worth during a monthly personal couples retreat (just the two of you).  

Get familiar with all of the options below and then pick which ones you intuitively feel to work with.  

  • Particulars (A Fact Sheet for Your Partner)

  • Nightly Check In & Chit-Chat  (Get to know you and Issues management)

  • Write and Share  (For your personal couples retreats)

  • Face to Face (Also for personal couple retreats, but only if your emotional bank account with each other is high)

Stop Talking. Start Breathing. 

This is the mother lode.  Why on earth would you want to talk if you’re unconscious, full of your story, swimming around in your reactive mind and generally incapacitated?   You wouldn’t.  So don’t.  Don’t talk.   

For the full story on this, please study Managing Outgoing and Managing Incoming.  

Memorize whatever phrases resonate with you.  Make up your mind.  Let peace begin with you.  Bring your issues to your issues list and to the Lord and hopefully to your coach, counselor or ecclesiastical leader.  

Bring your love, friendship and your unloaded, specific requests to your spouse.  (Note: "Requests" come at different levels depending on what "Stage you're at.")

Gottman's 5 to 1 Principle

The magic ratio is 5 to 1. In other words, as long as there are 5 times as many positive interactions between partners as there are negative, the relationship will be stable.  It is based on this ratio that Dr. John Gottman (the foremost marriage researcher in History)  is able to predict a successful marriage vs. divorce.  

If you make no other commitment in consequence of the "Path of Peace" materials, but focus on and master this one, you will almost always be successful in turning your relationship completely around toward an amazing life together.

Creating Safety Creates Love

It is the safety that you create in your relationship that opens up every good and joyous possibility between you. 

Spencer Kimball once said that though God knows each us, completely, that it is usually through someone else that he reaches us.  This, in a way, is the purpose of marriage; for God to reach your spouse (and your children) through you- for your spouse and children to know God’s love by the way you talk to them- by the feeling that exists in every conversation- the feeling of peace.  Love grows in the soil of peace.   

An obituary from one of Lucille Johnson’s daughters read: “here's what we learned from you…To love ourselves- and to never forget that God adores us.  Mom, we know He adores us because you did.” 

But it gets better.  The double win in our most intimate relationship is this:  If God can your spouse through you, then he has reached you too and visa versa.   

How we reach each other is through love, patience, kindness, unconditional trust and most of all, what all of this creates: safety.   Your companion (and your children’s) secret plea to you will always be: “Please, make a world for me that is so safe that all I feel to do is to fully live- in every way- to spread my wings and fly.”   

If, in the midst of issues, if you can create a feeling of safety, then you have reached your family with the love of God.  And just as importantly, God has fully reached you. 

The "Path of Peace" features creating peace and safety in Issues management.  This feeling of safety turns out to be your premiere mission in all high stakes conversations.  The content (what you’re talking about) means almost nothing compared to the safety you create.  This is what good communication thrives in.  This is the ground in which the deepest of love can grow.  This is the space in which you learn to fly as a human being and as a child of God.

Question: Why is it that the one you need the most has a tendency to make you feel the least safe? Answer: Because you love him and need him the most.  Loving someone and needing someone this much makes it easy to feel threatened by his or her actions or words (or lack of).  To fully understand this please go back up the page and re-read "The Power of Attachment."

Rehearsal  (Fire Drill)

Most of what is written in these pages is counter intuitive.  It goes against your current ways of managing issues or of creating a path to each other's hearts.   Consider school children during a fire drill.  What fun!   They have strengthened the neuropathways leading them to safety and happiness if and when things go sideways.  

Do your drills!  Learn this material. Rehearse as many aspects of this as you are inspired to rehearse, notably managing incoming.   

Rehearse what happens when someone isn't comfortable with a conversation.  Memorize some of your favorite phrases from managing incoming.   

Josh Kaufman points out, you can learn anything in 20 hours.  You'll be delighted to see that with enough practice you will learn to get some time out vs. go to war. You will learn to ask for what you need rather than hinting or criticizing.  You will learn to respectfully work through issues rather than making your partner wrong or insulting his or character or judgement.  That's a lot to look forward to. Hang in there!

Practice doesn't make perfect, but it does get you out of the woods and moving steadily toward the love and joy you want.

The other thing to keep in mind when it comes to rehearsal is this:

When the emotional bank account* we have with each other gets low we quickly digress into downward spiral of distrust, misunderstandings, conflicts, and more distrust.  Distrust (the result of not keeping with Gottman's 5 to 1 rule) puts us in a fight or flight mode.  

It is during these times (which are hopefully very few and far between) that you need to heavily rely on previous rehearsals.  Why do you think children do fire drills?  Without the drill, when impulse to fight or run occurs, you will be ready to run your drill.  See managing incoming.   

Note 1The paradox to rehearsing procedures (drills) is that when things are good and emotional bank accounts are high, why would you rehearse what to do during a conflict?  But that is exactly when to rehearse, because you sure in ____ aren't going to do it when the _____ hits the fan!    

Note 2The Double Win with rehearsal is that you are helping to heal the larger problem.  What's the larger problem? - that you would even need to be reading this - that you need a protocol to deal with your shame and defensiveness - that you don't completely understand who you really are and therefore take things personally [Even if something was meant to be taken personally, you still don't need to take it personally].  

So here's what's so cool -  The rehearsal itself ends up sending needed messages to your brain as you continue in your journey toward wholeness i.e. "You're O.K.  Everything's fine.  You're safe. You don't have to run.  You don't have to fight.  Take a minute to feel God's love. Take some time to be still and know Him.  This is all great.  Have a good time on your walk." etc.   

Rehearsing the "Managing Incoming" protocol (just the rehearsing and thinking about it, and pretending like you're doing it) creates these new pathways in your brain.  Hallelujah!  

The game is won in the drills
You are involved in a game against your own negative tendencies.  Most of this game is won in the drills- not when the coin is tossed an you start heading down the field (against your own life long habitual behaviors).  Know and practice this material like your life depends on it.  It does.

*The Emotional Bank Account is an amazing concept taught by Dr. Stephen Covey


Service (Click here)

Click here for thoughts on serving each other and serving together.   This is the most important part of what I call your "Offence Game."

Take special note of what I call the "Clarence Plan." 

100% Accountability

According to Dr. Gaye Hendricks, all relationships conflicts and political conflicts would end if everyone involved, every time, took 100% responsibility, or as is recorded in the original Hoʻoponopono, said “I am responsible for this.” 

"Positive" Divorce

If you choose to divorce, there is a path that will guarantee your success in future relationships.  This same path will minimize the damage to your children's hearts.  To choose any other path is to insure a nightmare you do not want.

Here's the path of success in divorce: Master the "Path of Peace" (Couples GPS).  Master everything that is in this guidance material. Head into this like your life depends on it, because in a spiritual sense, it does.  And head into to this as if your kids are about to be shipwrecked- hanging on to little pieces of wood as they float through the ocean of the rest of their lives- because this is what happens. Divorce is a shadow which is ever looming in the lives our children, no matter their age.  I know this from experience.

Most importantly, head into your mastery of this material and these principles as if it was only you capable of doing so.  It only takes one to get this thing moving in the right direction.  Believe me, it actually only takes one.

Once you feel complete in all of this material, including your understanding of Dr. Phil's "Relationship Rescue" (part of your homework), then you are ready to consider divorce.  

Perhaps an even better barometer is this: Once you are not feeling an urgent need to divorce and more so, once you feel like you actually still love your spouse, even though you've decided it's best to terminate your marriage, then you can consider the careful road of exit you are about to take.

Marriage is not a good solution to our pain and loneliness. Divorce is not a good solution to our pain and loneliness.

Here's when to divorce: When your spouse is gone.  You will only know if he or she is still breathing if you yourself are still breathing.  Fill your lungs with the breath of clarity, of life and of hope by mastering the principles and guidelines in this material.  Then, with clear vision, you can discern if your spouse still in the game- if he or she is sincere.

Then, in the clarity of your mind and in the peace of your heart, if you feel it would actually be the best, highest road, then move ahead on it.   But remember, life isn't set up for you to be running from things.  Life is set up for you to live in courage and determination, patience and love.  Anything else- any kind of an attempt to run from an opportunity for growth that is calling you into it, will only end in heartache. 

Please don't misunderstand me.  I'm not against divorce.  I'm against running.  Only you know what you're doing, so know!  Stand still and feel the path of greatest opportunity that is before you.

Divorce Worksheet

If you are contemplating divorce, please at least review the Divorce Worksheet & Meditation.  Share your completed thoughts and feelings with 3 of the happiest people you know, even if these people are not friends of yours.  Get their honest feedback on what you've written and on some of the ideas covered in this paper.