Relationship Skills For Lasting Connections

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In this episode, you’ll learn the relationship skills you need to have the lasting connections you yearn for.

Lauren Reitsema’s interest in relationship skills began when her parents divorced after almost 20 years. Seeking to understand better patterns for her own future, she earned a Bachelor in Communication from TCU. Lauren is the author of In Their Shoes, a book dedicated to helping parents better understand and connect with children of divorce. She has been a speaker for over 15 years, teaching a variety of relationship skills to youth, adults and corporate teams. Lauren, her husband, Josh, and their three children are avid skiers, outdoor enthusiasts and Broncos’ fans.

Joneen Mackenzie is an RN and former first lieutenant in the USAF Nurse Corps. She founded the Center for Relationship Education, which has certified more than 15,000 educators in its REAL Essentials relationship skills curricula. She participates in national public health standards policy through numerous board memberships. She and her daughter, Lauren Reitsema, are the authors of the new book, Relationship Essentials: Skills to Feel Heard, Fight Fair, and Set Boundaries in All Areas of Life, and they both live in Colorado.

In this episode of Last First Date Radio:

  • Relationship tools from the book, Relationship Essentials
  • How we can reconnect a world divided post-pandemic
  • Why setting boundaries is an act of kindness
  • How “being interested makes you interesting”
  • Why fighting is a natural and healthy part of life
  • Tools for handling conflict effectively

EP 491: Lauren Reitsema and Joneen Mackenzie – Relationship Skills For Lasting Connections

What are some of the tools in Relationship Essentials, and how can they reconnect a world divided post-pandemic?

Some of our favorite tools are:

Scissors: cutting out blame and owning your mistakes

Spirit level: find common values and anchor in the middle, to find balance in the relationship

The power of thinking best of someone: always having an attitude of gratitude and always having a positive attitude. It’s like a battery that has a positive and negative charge. Vulnerability about what’s hurtful helps create a safe space. Humor also helps. You have to be rested, well fed, and slow down to honor the other person.

How is setting boundaries an act of kindness? 

Lauren: Boundaries create safety and limits. When we know where the guardrails are, we feel safer. My parents built a deck, and the guardrail wasn’t up yet, and no one would set foot on the deck without the rails up. When you don’t set boundaries, there’s insecurity, doubt. Set the boundaries in your relationship to feel safe.

Joneen: When I was dating after my divorce, it was nerve wracking. I asked myself what I really wanted. I made a list of things that I would accept and deal breakers. I didn’t want someone vulgar or someone who joked about others. I set a boundary early on in the dating relationship, and it was a great way to week out the losers. 

Acronym for boundary setting tools: TAPE 

  • Time limits
  • Auditory limits
  • Physical limits
  • Emotional limits

When relationship differences come up, what’s the best way to balance opposing forces and achieve equilibrium?

Reframing conflict has us look at conflict with a new lens. Conflict indicates what’s happening in a relationship. There’s a myth that healthy relationships lack conflict. Not true. We fight about things we care about. Giving a new perspective on the conflict helps us. 

Say “Here’s why I’m so upset”. 

We learned through our research that one of the biggest predictors of relationship dissolution is the inability to work through conflict. That’s why it’s important to hear each other and acknowledge that we’re hearing their feelings. We teach how to hear the heart.

How can people go on their last first date?

Lauren: Differences are not necessarily what we have to worry about. Honor differences and compatibilities around big issues/recreation/hobbies. Don’t pick someone incompatible and try to change them.

Joneen: We do personality assessments to see people’s operating systems and who is compatible. The key word is honor how someone operates in the world.

Watch this episode on YouTube

Connect with Lauren and Joneen and purchase their book here.

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