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Veronica Monet

Veronica Monet

Nevada City, California

Veronica Monet, founder of the Shame Free Zone ™ and The Exquisite Partnership Formula™ is an internationally acclaimed sexual empowerment change agent whose media credits include CNN, FOX, NY Times

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About the author

Veronica Monet, ACS: founder of the Exquisite Partnership Formula ™ and The Shame Free Zone™

Veronica Monet, ACS is an internationally acclaimed sexual empowerment and intimacy change agent. CNN, FOX, Politically Incorrect, Yale, Stanford and UC Berkeley are just a few of the numerous news and educational institutions that have hosted Veronica for her forward thinking insights and expertise.

Veronica coaches individuals and couples in mastering their erotic experience and transforming their relationships regardless of circumstance, history or health. As a Relationship Coach, Sexologist and Anger Specialist, she combines her extensive education with her deep empathic skills. Personally overcoming incest, rape, domestic violence and abuse she has not just survived but thrives. She is committed to helping others to own their personal empowerment in the most loving and honorable lifestyle tailored to their unique choices and desires.

Veronica invites you to join her in her sacred space: The Shame Free Zone. Here you will discover her book Sex Secrets of Escorts (Penguin 2005), as well as her game-changing Exquisite Partnership Formula ™, a program designed to turn conflict into connection and sex that gets better with each passing year.

Veronica Monet coaches over the telephone, via online video and in-person at her northern California office. She is well versed in transgender, kinky, poly, LGBTQ.

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How to Say Your No

Five Simple Steps to Heal the Heart and Soul of Your Relationship

Transform conflicts into an Exquisite Partnership ™ defined by sex that gets better with each passing year!

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Personal Growth & Self-Improvement Relationship Solutions
30,000 words
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8 publishers interested


In this age of #MeToo it’s crucial that you know how to say your No while staying connected to the person you care about. We all need to know how better to hear each other and to make ourselves heard. But it won't happen as long as we are afraid of damaging the connections we care about. 

In How To Say Your No, International sexpert Veronica Monet revolutionizes the way we express our preferences in an intimate context while keeping the connection we want. Instead of “giving in” or “compromising” because you don’t want to “hurt his/her feelings,” or “make him/her mad,” or “lose” the relationship, you CAN make your preferences and boundaries clear and firm while drawing your partner CLOSER to you and creating MORE connection.

And there's more.  Veronica Monet revolutionizes the way to supercharge your sex life. No pills, potions or positions. No time worn admonitions to listen more effectively or plan a weekly date night. Nothing about verbal foreplay throughout the day to jump start those lagging libidos. Hot sex is all about saying no.

No to compromise. No to avoiding conflict. No to going along to get along. And no to those stupid assumptions about what men want and what women want.

Instead, How to Say Your No lays out a very simple five step formula for saying no with integrity, love and enthusiasm. That last component is key. 

Too many of us have learned to feel ashamed about our no. So we shrug and look down at the floor, or we yell a defiant no. No one seems to understand how to say no with joy in their heart. 

Because of that, our no's are met with hurt feelings. But it doesn't have to be that way. Saying no can bring us closer to each other and spark sexual interest. If you know how to do it.

As a relationship coach,Veronica Monet shares her work with couples and individuals who don't know how to say no without alienating others. All too often, both men and women avoid sharing their feelings and gradually their relationship slips into a mediocre imitation of what they dreamed of when they first fell in love. 

Veronica’s five step process is a response to the very real need that all humans have: to be loved even when we won't do what others want us to do. 

Veronica Monet has had the honor of guiding hundreds of couples through these five steps. Her work with couples transforms years of fear and loneliness into a heart connection that brings tears to their eyes. And it is accomplished over and over again without compromising or giving up a thing. 

Now she wants to show you how  to stand firm in your truth with an open heart and optimism that invites the love you crave.

Learning how to say no can and will make you feel fully alive and bring your partner closer to you, if you know how to move past the shame and fear and into your enthusiasm.

 In five simple steps, she will teach you how.


How to Say Your No: Five Simple Steps to Heal the Heart and Soul of Your Relationship

by Veronica Monet, ACS

Table of Contents


1. It Took a lot of Trial and Error to Get Here

2. Why We Need Our No Now More Than Ever

3. How These Five Simple Steps Can Create Safety for You and Connection with Others

2. Everyone Disagrees Now and Then but Almost No One Enjoys the Process Because . . .

3. You Don't Have to Settle for a Mediocre Love Life

4. Enjoy Less Arguing and Better Sex

Part One: Turn Those Inevitable Conflicts into Your Best Friend: While it is natural to avoid conflict, doing so can endanger your well-being and it will ultimately sabotage your relationships. In this section, I will teach you the best ways to use differences in opinion and other forms of conflict to create more intimacy and attraction.

1. The Biggest Reason Your Timeouts are Not Working
2. How Time-Outs Work Best
3. What Does a Successful Timeout Look Like?
4. Apologies and Intimacy
5. Amends Made Easy for Couples
a. The Let Me Be You Game
b. Part One of the Amends Process
c. Part Two of the Amends Process

Part Two: Stop Getting Blamed for Everything and Have the Honest, Nurturing and Sexually Rewarding Relationship You Always Dreamed Of. No one likes to feel like they are wrong or bad, but most relationships have some element of fault finding and in the long run that destroys trust and intimacy. Your feelings, needs and desires matter! So does your partner’s. So use these techniques to ensure you BOTH get what you want AND feel great about yourselves and each other in the process!

1. Three Crucial Key Distinctions
2. The Five Steps to Exquisite Partnership ™ Revealed! Why Your Disagreements are Your Ticket to Awesome Sex!

Part Three: Take Your Relationship to the Next Level: If you are reading this book you already know you do NOT want to settle! You are aiming for the best in your love relationship. You want MORE emotional intimacy. You crave HOTTER sex on your terms. And you are ready to learn exactly how to do it! Read on for the keys to taking your relationship from okay to amazing!

1. Never Settle for Less Than the Best Sex of Your Life!  Increase Your Sexual IQ with these Advanced Foreplay and Sacred Sexual Techniques. Crucial Tip: YOU define what the best sex life looks like for you. Don't try to fulfill someone else's version of hot sex. Discover what your true desire looks like and hold firm to that.

2. Use Your Anger to Create MORE Intimacy, Trust and Safety with the Eight Keys to Managing Your Anger and Asserting Your Healthy Boundaries. Crucial Tip: Your Rage is a compass to your truth but you must learn how to use your anger for positive outcomes. These eight steps will show you how.

3. Forget Mars and Venus! Discover Popular Myths about Men and Women that Drastically Reduce the Happiness Quotient in Relationships. Crucial Tip: We are all from the same planet so let's learn more about each other's gender perspective and build empathy across the gender divides!

4. Find Out if You or Your Partner are Codependent and How You Can Dance the Dance of Interdependence. Crucial tip: Codependency is tricky. Most likely it is NOT what you think it is. And yet almost everyone suffers from it!

Part Four: Real people . . . Real results: Learning techniques is cool but hearing how other couples have successfully applied these tools, is even better. Real life situations will help you understand how you can apply the tools in this book in your own life.

1. Learn How to apply the Exquisite Partnership Formula™ in your Relationship by Learning from These Real Life Stories. And look forward to disagreements with your partner because you know how to transform those disagreements into an Exquisite Partnership ™ that is defined by the best sex of your life - sex that gets better with each passing year!


While a substantial audience for How to Say Your No is couples, it is also for women who want to learn a better way to say no to the people they care about. 

For instance, as the #MeToo movement has made abundantly clear, many women of all ages have difficulty expressing their no effectively. In large part this is due to female culture which is oriented around maintaining connection and preserving relationships - even when it incurs discomfort, displeasure or damage to the woman. 

A recent survey concluded that 81% of women have experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault. That means the vast majority of women are targets of unwanted sexual advances. And while saying no in any way will not prevent sexual assault, there are many instances where saying no in a way that is both effective and aligned with female culture, would empower a woman to maintain a relationship she wishes to maintain while refusing to engage in any sexual behavior she doesn’t wish to engage in. 

Again and again, we hear that many women find it difficult to say no in a way that works for them. We need a different approach, one that is better suited to women’s needs. My five step process in How to Say Your No, is that approach. 

Both working with and defying female gender inculturation, How to Say Your No will help thousands of women finally say no without risking loss of connection with those they care about. How to Say Your No will appeal to women who want to be empowered to say no to their boyfriend or husband without that leading to a loss of affection, connection or intimacy.

#MeToo has has reached over 85 countries and a recent study by the Pew Research Center found that the #MeToo hashtag was used more than 19 million times on Twitter over the course of the last year. And the trend shows little sign of abating. Yet there is a paucity of books that would empower women when they are alone with a man they are in a relationship with. While How to Say Your No will not prevent sexual assault, it will give women a valuable tool to reclaim their sexual empowerment in the context of relationships they wish to maintain.

The couples who will purchase and read How to Say Your No will be similar to the hundreds of couples that I have coached. They are college educated, financially secure, progressive or liberal in their world-view and interested in self-improvement. Most have been in relationship at least five years and some have been married for ten or twenty years. Whether new parents or empty nesters, they want more emotional and sexual intimacy in their connection and they are willing to learn new ways of relating in order to achieve those goals.

Popular thinking about sex in long-term relationships assumes that sexual frequency and satisfaction will “naturally” decline over time. Recent research substantiates that phenomenon but fails to explain it. While the scientists continue to search for solutions, most laypeople just assume it is “normal” to feel less passion and pleasure in the sex act with a long-term partner. But the results I am obtaining for the couples that I coach fly in the face of what is considered “normal.” The couples I coach can count on more sexual enjoyment and passion as their relationship matures. And it all begins with learning How to Say Your No.

While Newsweek estimates sexless marriages in the United States at 15% to 20%, Dr. Phil dubbed sexless marriages an epidemic. And the trend isn’t limited to the USA. About 50% of all Japanese marriages are sexless. A recent survey in England found that one in five women is dissatisfied with her sex life. The search phrase “i don't want my husband to touch me anymore” garners a whopping 77,300,000 results in just 0.52 seconds. 

How to Say Your No approaches the sexless marriage from the perspective that interests women the most: their hearts. For many women, unaddressed resentments and unmet emotional needs are a libido killer. How to Say Your No gives women the tools they need to fully express their healthy boundaries and feel deeply heard while creating a profound heart connection.

And How to Say Your No works for men too. Most of my male clients are only too happy to engage in sex regardless of what other issues may be at play in the relationship, but they also know that their female partners are not likely to feel the same way. And that difference motivates most men to want to learn improved communication and sexual techniques.

How to Say Your No will also deliver cutting edge information and techniques about female sexual response that many sexperts fail to address. “How to please a woman in bed” is a VERY popular search phrase returning 843,000,000 results in just 0.39 seconds! 

70% of online purchases of adult fiction & nonfiction are ebooks & audiobooks, and online consumer dollars skew mostly digital, too. According to a survey released by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project: The highest percentage of readers by age was 88 percent, among the 18-24 age group, followed by 86 percent in the 16-17 range. Readers in the 30-39 group were a close third at 84 percent. The lowest percentage of readers was among people older than 65, at 68 percent.

According to an article in Publisher's Weekly at the beginning of 2018, NPD BookScan reported that:

Self-help had the largest unit gain within adult nonfiction; sales were 18% higher than in 2016. You Are a Badass had another good year of sales, selling more than 648,000 copies, and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck followed, with 557,000 copies sold.

How to Say Your No is a self-help book and I expect it to do very well!


Veronica Monet has a platform that includes over 8,000 contacts on LinkedIn, over 5,000 friends and followers on Facebook, over 3,000 followers on Twitter and about 3,000 subscribers to weekly emails. 

Referring to Twitter Analytics, Monet's followers are 57% male and 43% female. 31% are in professional/technical occupations, 28% are self-employed and 22% are homemakers. Over half earn between $60,000 and $250,000 annually.

Her fans, followers and subscribers look to her for a shame free and holistic approach to sexuality and sexual relationships. Many of them are eager for her next book so she is excited to offer them the opportunity to preorder her second book! 

Monet’s previous book was published by Penguin Books in 2005, sold over 15,000 copies and was translated into German, Romanian, Czech and Spanish. With an international following she is regularly featured as a relationship and sexuality expert on webinars and podcasts around the globe.

Veronica Monet will be proactive in her promotions during the preorder stage and once the book is published. In addition to social media and emails, she will reach out to her many media contacts to solicit interviews. 

In addition, Veronica is planning a tour of Europe the Spring of 2019 to teach workshops in Poland, Italy and the Czech Republic. Her first book was just published in the Czech Republic and she has an active fan base there. She will promote her second book during this tour by requesting preorders from those who attend her workshops.


1. Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic by Esther Perel, HarperAudio in 2006.

Esther Perel believes secure love and domesticity conflict with passion and sexual desire, and that our cultural penchant for equality, togetherness, and absolute candor is antithetical to erotic desire.  Perel preaches we must kick egalitarian ideals and emotional housekeeping out of our bedrooms. Perel's beliefs could not be more antithetical to my gift to my readers. I know that honest expression of our truth can free us to enjoy more sexual passion than we ever thought possible, if we know how to share our truth with our partner. That is exactly what I teach in my book. And the end result is a win/win that brings emotional intimacy and sexual passion that gets better with each passing year. How to Say Your No empowers couples to be honest and loving in one breath and in five simple steps.

2. Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski,  Simon & Schuster in 2015.

This science based book about women's sexual anatomy, sexual response and sexual well-being is an amazing book, but it doesn't deal with how relationship dynamics shape sex over time. My book targets couples who want to enjoy amazing sex year after year, by teaching them five simple steps that free them to speak plainly about their feelings and desires as they pertain to the non-sexual aspects of their shared life. How to Say Your No unearths the number one reason sexual chemistry wanes in long-term relationships: a lack of authenticity. But authenticity can destroy relationships if you don’t know how to be authentic AND create an enthusiastic, heart-centered connection while asserting your boundaries. How to Say Your No is THE formula for keeping sex hot year after year after year and it all begins with the Fives Steps to Exquisite Partnership.

3. Getting the Sex You Want: Shed Your Inhibitions and Reach New Heights of Passion Together by Tammy Nelson, Quiver in 2012.

Using principles based upon Harville Hendrix's Imago Therapy, Tammy Nelson's book comes closest to the premise of my book because she teaches a three step process of Mirroring, Validating and Empathizing. These steps are critical skill sets for any long-term relationship and I have great admiration for Harville Hendrix as well as Tammy Nelson. That said, my Exquisite Partnership Formula takes communication between couples into the most problematic terrain of long-term relationships: how to assert boundaries and disagree without losing the heart connection we all crave. My Exquisite Partnership Formula is specifically designed and proven to accomplish healthy boundaries, rigorous honesty and the passionate intimacy that results from that level of transparency. How to Say Your No is a one of a kind book that will revolutionize the way couples approach conflict and lagging libidos.

4. The Art of  Saying No: How to Stand Your Ground, Reclaim Your Time and Energy, And Refuse to be Taken For Granted (Without Feeling Guilty!) by Damon Zahariades, independently published in 2017.

Zahariades is an Amazon bestselling author and his latest book promises to teach you how to set boundaries and be assertive while inspiring the respect of your spouse, family, friends and co-workers. His approach is the traditional approach to saying no and not at all what I teach. My Five Step process is about INCREASING intimacy - NOT commanding respect. And that is a key difference between my book and any other book about saying no. How to Say Your No will revolutionize boundary setting in intimate relationships and it is a method that can be easily adapted to boundary setting with family, friends, neighbor and co-workers. Five Steps to Exquisite Partnership draws the person you say no to, CLOSER to you and provides them with a heart expanding experience of themselves and of you! The end result is more intimacy, more laughter, more trust and, in the case of romantic partners, more sexual desire.

5. Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, Zondervan in 2002.

Cloud’s and Townsend’s book is hugely popular on Amazon and it targets a Christian audience. Their Ten Laws of Boundaries are designed to establish values that form a godly structure and architecture for marriage. One of their ten laws asserts that we have to be free to say no before we can whole-heartedly say yes. And I whole-heartedly agree! However, their approach to intimacy is very much about learning to assert healthy boundaries. And while that is a worthy goal, my book is about a hundred steps ahead of that. How to Say Your No shows couples how to create connection and intimacy literally WHILE saying no. NOT as an after effect or end result, but as part of the process of saying no. No one is teaching that and that is why my book is so needed.

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Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc. logo Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.

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New clients are always surprised by my response to conflicts in their relationships. A big smile comes across my face and I say something like, “That’s great!” This really confuses them because they think that conflict means that things are bad. The reality is actually the opposite. Avoiding conflict and not knowing how to manage conflict are far more dangerous to your relationship than the conflict itself.

I’ve created a powerful process for turning conflict into deeper connection in your relationship. I coach both individuals and couples from around the world through this process.  And I am going to share it with you in this free guide!

We all want an amazing relationship. Our hearts yearn for it and even our bodies do better when we enjoy a happy connection with our loved ones.

Unfortunately there can often be a huge gap between what we need and what we get.

So what are we to do? First of all, we can shift our perspective from thinking that relationships are about winning or losing or for that matter about compromising.

Instead we can begin to believe that it is possible to create win/wins! While comprising can often feel like you are settling, win/win propositions are exciting and enlivening!

You CAN have what your heart craves and in this guide, I will reveal how you can overcome the most common mistakes couples make.

I want to help you create win/wins for you and your partner so your love grows even stronger.

It Took a lot of Trial and Error to Get Here. I Want to Save You a lot of Suffering and a lot of Time!

I used to fight all the time with my husband. Well he’s actually my ex-husband now. But the first few years we were married were full of angry shouting often followed by frustrated tears. I wish I could tell you that we argued about important things like how to raise our children. But it seems we avoided those big topics, preferring to rip each other’s hearts into little bits about nonsense neither one of us can remember now.

One day, I finally realized things were never going to get better unless we got help. My husband was not going to initiate change because his way of coping was to withdraw until things blew over and then pretend nothing happened. But I wanted someone to help us understand what we were doing wrong and how we could fix it.

However I did not want couple’s therapy. We had tried that and it only brought us minimal relief. No, I knew we needed a fresh approach from someone who not only had the education and expertise, but had LIVED through the rough stuff and was now enjoying a peaceful and rewarding connection with their partner.

I found a coach who specialized in helping couples navigate their anger and learn new ways of communicating. Her expertise was not only based upon education, but also real life experience. She and her husband had personally overcome the same obstacles my husband and I faced.

My husband and I did the “homework” she assigned and soon we were enjoying the fruits of real change! But we didn’t stop there. We learned a lot of different approaches to communication, anger management, problem solving and even parenting from a variety of programs and support groups. And it helped a lot! Whenever we started to spin out of control, we knew what to do to get things back on track. And the new things we were learning really worked!

Soon, we were enjoying a much more peaceful and enjoyable connection. In many ways it was like falling in love all over again only this time we were coming to have an even deeper appreciation for each other.

It’s true we eventually divorced because we came to realize our life choices were simply incompatible. But ours was perhaps the most amiable divorce ever. I am very happy that my ex and I are still friends over a decade after our divorce. When we connect on the phone, we talk about our children and laugh about the many anecdotes from our years together. We were only married for 14 years but our friendship spans decades.

Today, I am living with the man of my dreams. We have been together for many years and the tools I learned in relationship with my ex are still relevant and useful in my new relationship. And I have continued to learn new ways of dealing with conflict and new ways of building intimacy. The path I am on is one of continual growth and ever escalating joys! I am learning that there is no limit to how beautiful love, intimacy and the erotic dance can be.

I have learned a ton through years of experience and the good news is that you don't have to invest decades in trial and error that can often lead to devastating results until you figure out what works. I can help you bypass unnecessary agony and get your relationship and your life on track much, much sooner than I did!

The transformation I am enjoying is just too amazing not to be shared. That's why I have distilled what I have learned into five simple steps that can change your love life forever.

Everyone Disagrees Now and Then but Almost No One Enjoys the Process Because . . .

Our conflicts can feel like obstacles we need to solve or avoid. And we are often afraid we won't get what we need from the relationship. For instance . . .

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a disagreement with your partner and suddenly realized that they don’t have a clue what you are trying to say to them? Even though you have told them the same thing a hundred times before, they still just don’t get it.

Or are you fed up with trying to please your partner?

Have you repeatedly given up something really important to you in a vain attempt to please them? Hopefully they say thank you. But is their gratitude quickly replaced with yet another request that you change or otherwise give up something else that is really important to you?

And what about your sex life? Are you happy with it?

Sure. Sex is always good . . . even when it is less than thrilling. But could it be better?

Maybe you have tried to suggest a few things? Tried to spice things up? Or asked for more romance or time together?

How is that going?

Too often couples want things to be better but despite their best efforts, things either stay the same or get worse over time.

Eventually they may give up and stop asking for what they really want. They may simply try to avoid hot topics and do their best to get along.

You Don't Have to Settle for a Mediocre Love Life

What if I told you that one of the greatest lies of our times is that falling in love leads inevitably to the slow and steady process of fading sexual passion and diminishing joys?

What if I told you that I know exactly what you can do to change all of this into what you really want most – a relationship that works for you and for your partner now and long-term?

What if I told you that I know five simple steps to take the sort of disagreements all couples have and transform them into the best friendship and the hottest sex of your life?

Would you believe me? Or would you wonder if I had a tendency to exaggerate?

I know this might sound too good to be true. If I were you, I would probably be skeptical. But the fact is I have helped thousands of individuals and hundreds of couples to transform their relationship drama into more love and romance.

You see, I live this every single day of my life. I have been on this path for years and I am here to tell you that love and sex are NOT meant to “mature” into something a little boring. That sounds like a really unfulfilling choice to me and I am just not willing to settle.

I know you don’t have to settle either.

Enjoy Less Arguing and Better Sex

If you think you deserve the best friendship and sex of your life, then you will want to read on!

My Exquisite Partnership Formula ™ is very simple – though that doesn't mean it is always easy.

What I am going to share with you in this guide works best when combined with my professional coaching, but you can get a lot of traction just by practicing the steps I am going to share with you here.

And if you do more than just read this guide, if you actually practice the steps over and over again, you are going to catapult all your connections – not just your romantic relationship – into another dimension. One where you have WAY more control over outcomes than you ever thought possible.

Wouldn’t it be nice to finally eliminate the predictable patterns of conflict you have been living with for way too long?

And wouldn’t you rather enjoy the hot sex with your partner that you fantasize about - for real?

You don’t need to wait for your partner to join you in this journey of learning. The fact is - if you’ve been waiting for your partner to change… then starting now, the wait is over!

Because in this guide you’ll find out what YOU can do to create the relationship you long for, HOW to bring your best and truest self into relationship and HOW to be an irresistible magnet that brings out the best in your partner.

Are you ready to get started?  Great! Let’s dive in!

Part One: Turn Those Inevitable Conflicts into Your Best Friend

When was the last time you argued or disagreed with your partner?

Do you remember what you argued about? Many couples don’t. They remember having a fight and feeling miserable, but they don’t always recall what topic they fought about.

And even if you do remember the reason you argued, that can be a distraction from the larger issues in your relationship. For instance, while the topics of disagreements may be well-worn paths to the same old argument over and over again, it can just as easily be an all too familiar litany of attacks and defensive maneuvers on a variety of topics. Conflict in intimate relationships is rarely about the issue at hand. And what lies below the surface is usually intense emotions that can be unrelated to the issue being debated. In this way, specific topics become symbolic of the real issues that are usually about a loss of respect or affection and the intense fear, grief and anger that those perceptions can evoke.

So what about avoiding conflict? What could possibly be wrong with that? Isn’t that one of the virtues we should be striving for?

Perhaps avoiding conflict has a place in your other relationships. It might be advisable when dealing with angry neighbors or difficult co-workers. But it is the LAST thing you want to do in your intimate partnership. The LAST thing!


Because when you avoid conflict with your partner, you in effect create a wall between you and them. That wall might seem harmless enough in the beginning. But if you continue to put things behind that wall, over the years, you will end up a stranger to the very person with whom you want an intimate connection.

And what is even more sabotaging to the relationship you desire, is that your efforts to avoid conflict doom the relationship to become a stagnant and brittle entity that is unable to withstand life’s inevitable changes and challenges.

Couples who avoid conflict habitually, often wake up years later to find that they don’t have a clue what each other really thinks and feels. They don’t know how to handle conflict because they invested all their efforts into avoiding it. No doubt their sex life has become boring or non-existent too. And when a life event that requires partnership occurs, there is no workable partnership between them, so they are unable to handle a crisis.  And this is where a break-up or divorce becomes a very real possibility.

When the chips are down, you want to have the tools and the skills to be able to navigate life’s challenges together as a team. And you can only do that if you know how to handle the smaller conflicts with ease and grace. Then when the larger conflicts arise, you will know what steps to take to empower yourself and your partner to work together toward a solution.

In an intimate long-term relationship, it is essential that you show up with all your feelings and thoughts. That involves a certain degree of risk taking and that can require a lot of courage. But simply blurting out what you think and feel can lead to disaster too. So you need to learn how to share your truth in a way that invites partnership and increases intimacy.

I can’t stress this enough: conflict is actually the life’s blood of both intimacy and spiritual growth IF you know how to use it for good!

Yet it is natural to want to avoid conflict. Conflict is scary and it can spiral out of control damaging our relationships and our sense of self.

But when you know the habits of thought that are keeping you stuck, you will be able to free your heart so you can soar!

Once you get clear on your “script” and how it is shaping your interactions with others and your sense of self, nothing will ever be the same again! You will feel more empowered to navigate your life in the ways that call to you most powerfully.

In short, this shift in perspective is simply the most life changing and profound step you will ever take. I am inviting you to shift your attitude toward conflict 180 degrees from what feels natural and normal. Instead of dread or anger or fear, I am inviting you to let go and get curious.

Allow yourself to be curious about the situation in front of you, about yourself and about your partner.

What are you feeling when you and your partner disagree? What might your partner be feeling at those times? Are what you are feeling and what your partner is feeling similar or different?

What other feelings might be behind the more obvious emotions on display? For instance, if your partner gets angry when you disagree, is it possible that the feeling behind their anger is fear? And if you can locate fear in your partner, do you have any clues as to what they might be afraid of?

And how about you? What emotions lie behind your initial frustration or anger? Is there any fear? What might you be afraid of? Is there any sadness? If so, what are you sad about?

There are some rather common obstacles to becoming curious in the midst of conflict. One obstacle is fear for your personal safety.   Do the conflicts in your relationship ever feel threatening to your well-being?  Whether that is so for you or not, we all need to step away when things get too heated. For that reason it is important to master the very specific tool of Timeouts.

The Biggest Reason Your Timeouts are Not Working

First, let’s address one of the most common mistakes people make when taking a timeout. Most of the couples I work with are confused about how a timeout really works and so they complain that their timeouts don’t create positive results in their relationship.

For instance, one client thought he was taking a time out when he walked away without saying a word to his partner, disappeared for an indeterminate amount of time and then reappeared without saying word. Not surprisingly, his partner saw this as his way of controlling the conversation by quite literally refusing to participate. But he was sure this was a timeout because he was leaving before he said or did something destructive.

Well, leaving before you say or do something destructive IS preferable to staying in the conversation until you lose your cool. But a timeout has a very specific set of stages to it and if you omit even one of those, your partner will probably develop contempt for your “timeouts” and that will likely lead to even more conflict and emotional disconnect in the long run.

Another mistake couples make is taking timeouts and then failing to follow up on the topic they took a timeout on. For instance, my ex-husband loved taking this version of timeouts. At the first sign of conflict he would call a timeout and leave the room. An hour later, he would tell me that he was off his timeout and then look at me sweetly as if that was all he needed to do.

It didn’t take me long to realize that he was using timeouts to avoid hot topics. He had no intention of resuming our discussion once he cooled down. His entire strategy was not only about avoiding conflict but also avoiding certain topics all together.

Needless to say, this version of timeouts, although popular, does not work to build trust or intimacy. Instead it fosters ever-increasing levels of frustration and distrust.

But there is a very specific set of steps you can take in order to maximize the benefits of taking timeouts in your relationship.

How Timeouts Work Best:

Here is the step-by-step process of taking timeouts in the context of a committed relationship:

1. Agree to the terms of your timeouts BEFORE there is conflict. For instance you will want to agree that the person who calls a time-out is responsible for re-establishing contact.  Agree to a maximum time, 24 hours for instance, before you will at least call to say you are still not available to speak.  One reason it is crucial that the person who calls the timeout let’s their partner know they are off their time is because it ensures that the timeout will not be violated. If your partner is confident that you will let them know when you are off your timeout, they will be better able to detach and leave you alone during your timeout.

2. When your partner calls a timeout resist the temptation to say more.  Stop talking and honor the timeout.  Your partner needs to stop before things get out of hand. You both should step away and engage in self-nurturing.  Plan ahead what you will do during a timeout to care for and soothe yourself. When you call a timeout do so calmly and without explanation.  Simply say, "I am taking a timeout."

3. Use the timeout to reflect on your feelings and your part.  This is not a time to take your partner's inventory and call your friends to tell them how messed up your partner is.  Nor is this a time to use alcohol or drugs to numb the pain.  Instead, get in touch with your feelings by writing them down, crying them out, etc. Of course your partner made mistakes but so did you in all likelihood.  Focus on the one thing you can change in this life: you. And do something nice for yourself!

4. Once you have re-established contact, agree to a time when you will resume addressing the issue(s) that catapulted you into conflict. Do NOT take timeouts simply to stop a conversation you don't wish to engage in.  Follow up and follow through. You, your partner and your relationship deserve the respect of having closure so work toward that common goal.

Note: It IS the responsibility of the person who calls the timeout to:

1. Announce they are off their timeout and

2. Make the first effort to resume the topic that was put on hold. 

The reason this is crucial is that it makes it clear to both the person who called the timeout and the person who honored the timeout that timeouts are NOT being used to control or avoid conversations.

It can take a lot of practice before you get the Timeout process down so that it produces the results you want. And to be clear, you are not just striving to stop the argument before you say or do something you will regret. You are also trying to help yourself and your partner create the best possible outcome for your conflicts.

Ultimately, you want to avoid negative results AND produce positive outcomes! Getting to that positive outcome and loving connection is the goal.

What does a successful Timeout look like?

I confess it has taken me years to perfect my timeouts. I had a strong drive to keep engaging in conflict long past the point of positive engagement. I wanted to “make my point” at any cost. But over the years I have learned that “making my point” did not lead to my feeling heard or seen or in any way more partnered with my partner. Instead, my desire to “win” an argument only left me feeling more lonely and unappreciated than ever.

When I finally got how valuable a timeout can be, the next step was learning to shift my energy so that I was not taking a timeout in an angry or resentful or belligerent way. I taught myself to take a timeout calmly and firmly but also with love in my heart. Though the words are always the same, the intention and the energy I communicate with those words makes all the difference.

Looking my partner in the eyes, and calmly saying “I am taking a timeout” feels WAY different than yelling those same words as I slam the door behind me. The eye contact creates connection. The calm demeanor communicates trust. And the result is that I am able to get the focus on myself and my emotions and my process in that moment much more quickly. Which is my goal for taking a timeout.

When I take a timeout, I want to stop the action so I can connect with the part of myself that can be honest about my emotions instead of covering all my feelings over with rage. I want to use the timeout to remember what I love about my partner and my relationship. I want to use the timeout to look at how I am contributing to the conflict and what I might do differently so we can achieve our mutual goals and create win/wins.

And when I feel centered in myself, I come back to my partner calmly and lovingly and announce “I am off my timeout now.” Then I let my partner know if I feel ready to reengage the topic we were in conflict about. If I don’t feel ready to do that, I make an appointment with my partner to do so in the near future.

I might say something like this: “I am off my timeout now and I don’t feel emotionally ready to discuss what we were talking about when I took my timeout. I am however available to discuss it further tomorrow at 6PM. Does that time work for your schedule?”

Yes, I am being super polite and even a little formal here. I have found that when emotions are running high, it helps to stick to the facts and avoid anything that might lead to more hurt and anger. And I know that my firm boundary combined with genuine love and interest in connecting with my partner is a winning formula for partnership and long-term intimacy!

Apologies and Intimacy

No matter how good our intentions are, we will eventually say and do things that are hurtful to the connections we value the most. And often, our first response when we discover that our partner is upset with us, is to defend our behavior or apologize for it.

It’s easy to see how defending and explaining ourselves to our partner erodes the partnership. Your partner has probably heard all your explanations before. And they are probably over it. What they really want and need is to:

1.     Feel heard

2.     Know that you care how your behavior is impacting them and

3.     Obtain concrete and meaningful assurance that you will change your behavior

Unfortunately, as soon as most people stop defending themselves, they resort to apologizing. But if you look more closely at the contents of most apologies, you will see that apologies simply do not address the three needs your partner has when you have hurt them.

Most of us learned how to apologize as children. We were often told to say we were “sorry.” And with that one word, all was magically forgiven. But too many times, the words “I’m sorry” are used to renew trust and good will without assuring any meaningful change in behavior. The reason is that remorse simply is not enough to change human behavior. No matter how badly you feel about something you did, you can’t truly change your patterns without taking meaningful steps to do so. Simply saying “I’m sorry” often amounts to obtaining permission to do whatever we did again and again.

Why? Because we have NO plan on how we will stop doing what we did. Remorse and guilt are simply not enough in most cases. And sadly, when we get a free pass for our bad behavior by apologizing, we can take the ways we are hurting others less seriously. After awhile we might be tempted to use our apologies to smooth things over instead of seeking authentic change in our behavior.

Now, I have clients who are DEEPLY remorseful about their bad behavior. And sometimes they have managed to control themselves so that they stopped their destructive behavior. But too often that deep remorse and extraordinary control also leads to a rigid, contracted, and easily triggered heart space. This does very little to create a healthy partnership because it is shame based. When you are ashamed of yourself, you not only hurt yourself, you hurt the ones you are closest to.

The gift of learning how to stop defending, excusing and apologizing while stepping into the amends process, is that it heals shame. And yes, it will also heal your connections to others. But the biggest gift of making amends is the gift to you. It truly is your ticket to living a life free of shame.

Now, how amends frees you from shame is usually not self-evident at first glance. In fact, if you are accustomed to avoiding responsibility for your less than ideal actions, the prospects of making an amends can feel like a triple dose of shame!

But I can tell you from years of making amends and helping my clients to make amends, while you may initially feel the brunt of your shame as you step toward the amends process, your shame will be utterly transformed in ways that might seem counter-intuitive right now.

An amends highlights what we did that was hurtful and how it impacted the person we hurt. It requires us to take responsibility for our actions instead of blaming our behavior on circumstances or other people. Another key ingredient to an amends is sharing with the person that you caused harm, the specific steps you are taking to ensure that you don’t cause them harm in the future. Further, when possible, an amends can involve restoring what we have damaged.

Here are three obstacles to taking responsibility for our actions. I call them the Unholy Trinity:

1. Blame (instead of Responsibility)

2. Shame (instead of a Guilty Conscience)

3. Apologizing (instead of making Amends)

It may sound counterintuitive, but taking responsibility for your actions will increase your self-esteem. And when you make a real amends to those you have harmed, you not only free yourself from feelings of being blamed or shamed, you also gain a sense of control over your behavior and that restores your confidence in yourself!

There is a difference between Shame and a Guilty Conscience. The former attacks your worth as a human being while the latter helps you become a better person.

Over the years, as I have shared the amends making process with my clients, they have informed me that it has helped to heal their shame. I can personally attest to the fact that making amends has catapulted me into a shame free zone! I make a daily habit of promptly admitting when I have been wrong and then taking concrete steps to change my behavior long-term. The sense of integrity and freedom this brings is something  you have to experience for yourself!

Amends Made Easy for Couples

Too often, people are in a rush to solve their conflicts so they may attempt to make promises pertaining to the future. But promises are not the same as a concrete plan. And whether you offer a promise or a plan, doing so before your partner feels heard and confident that you get how you harmed them, will create emotional disconnect. For that reason, it is important to address the feelings first.

What follows is an exercise which will help you both feel truly heard, seen, known, appreciated, validated, valued and precious to each other.  The steps in this exercise can be used alone or as the first part of the amends process.

Here is how it goes:                                                     

The Let Me Be You Game:

1. You each pretend to be the other person, fully embodying his/her emotions and experience.  You put yourself in the other person's shoes completely, adopting their name and speaking for them. 

2. While you role-play your partner's perspective, they watch and listen and hopefully hear how well you get their truth. At some point, when you feel you have thoroughly spoken for them, you can check in and ask if there were any parts of your role-play which didn't fit or if there were any key points which you might have inadvertently left out.

3. With the new information, resume the role-play further perfecting and deepening your understanding of your partner's experience.

4. Once your partner agrees that they feel completely "gotten," switch roles.

Step One of the Amends Process:

Before you meet with your partner to make an amends, I suggest you write out your answers to the following questions:

1. What led to my negative behavior?

2. Why don’t I like my behavior?

3. Why wouldn't I wish to repeat the behavior?

4. In what ways has my behavior negatively impacted my partner?

5. In what ways has my behavior negatively impacted me?

6. What concrete steps have I taken or can I take to change my behavior?

7. What specific assurances can I offer that the behavior will not happen again?

Step Two of the Amends Process:

Once you are clear on how you feel and what you want to change about your behavior, you are ready to take this to your partner.

Be sure to avoid rushing in to tell them all about your self-reflections and positive steps to change. You DO want to share all of that. But first you want to give your partner a chance to share with you how they are feeling. If they need to unload, let them. If they don’t have much to say, then take the lead and share what you discovered about yourself in step one.

As you can see, the biggest part of the amends process takes place between you and you! Sharing it with the person you have harmed makes it real and it provides an opportunity for healing the relationship. But your goal should not be to gain their approval or forgiveness. The goal is to clean your emotional house and move forward with new positive behaviors.

Do both parts of the amends process as thoroughly and sincerely as possible and then, if your partner is willing, you can move towards making agreements on what changes you both wish to make that will improve your connection.

Part Two: Stop Getting Blamed for Everything and Have the Honest, Nurturing and Sexually Rewarding Relationship You Always Dreamed Of.

This is the heart and soul of the Exquisite Partnership Formula! There are 5 specific steps to transform your relationship into an Exquisite Partnership ™ and enjoy the very best sex of your life. Sex doesn’t occur separate from relationship dynamics so addressing the ways you communicate and connect is key.

When you practice active listening, validation of feelings, assertion skills, appreciations and invitations to partnership as laid out in my Exquisite Partnership Formula ™, your relationships will never be the same - including the most important relationship in your life: the relationship you have with yourself.

This is a game changer. What you are going to learn will not only transform your relationship with your partner, you will begin to relate to all the people in your life in a far more empowered, authentic and heart centered way!

Three Crucial Key Distinctions

First we need to establish some key distinctions!

There is a difference between walls and boundaries. When we have weak boundaries, we tend to hide behind our walls of fear. But walls not only keep us from getting hurt – they also prevent any love from reaching us. Exquisite Partnership cannot be built when we’re separated by walls. Exquisite Partnership thrives on healthy boundaries.

There is a difference between reacting and responding. Reacting comes from fear.  Responding happens when our hearts are open to possibilities.  When we react, we tend to be more destructive. Responding requires us to be calm and centered and it makes it possible for us to take positive, constructive action.

There is a difference between having self-empathy and self-pity. Self-pity feels like a pit of despair. It ruminates and digs deep trenches in our hearts. Self-empathy feels like a warm embrace. It acknowledges feelings and experiences. With self-empathy, you can re-parent yourself. You might say something such as “Here’s why I won’t let you down next time.” This builds your ability to trust yourself. Building a trusting relationship with yourself is essential for living an empowered life. Validate your own emotions. Know that your feelings matter.

And Now The Five Steps to Exquisite Partnership™ Revealed!

  1. Validate or Identify with Your Partner

  2. Appreciate Your Partner

  3. Assert Your Healthy Boundaries

  4. Redirect Your Partner

  5. Invite Partnership

  1. Validate or Identify

If your partner expresses a desire or emotion that you find challenging, remember that they are probably feeling very vulnerable in that moment. They might be asking for something that’s scary for them.  Show understanding by saying affirming things such as:

I can totally understand…

I get it…

I have felt similarly before . . .

It is important that you validate you partner’s desires without necessarily agreeing with them. By bringing their feelings and desires to you, your partner is trying to partner with you. Express appreciation for that.

Put yourself in your partner’s experience. You want to make sure you do not contribute to these negative emotions:

Feeling alienated.

Feeling invisible.

Not feeling seen or heard.

Not feeling like what’s alive for me is important to my partner.

Validate your partner by expressing that their needs and desires have value to you.

Remember your partner needs TLC. Avoid win-lose propositions.

  1. Appreciate

Appreciate 5X more than you criticize.  This benefits your partner and it also benefits you by shifting your outlook to one where your proverbial glass is half full. Expressing gratitude is the best way to highlight and create what we want more of.

The things you’re grateful for multiply. Life becomes more about the things you appreciate.

And it certainly makes your partner more curious and cooperative when it comes to hearing about what’s bothering you. Appreciation creates an attitude of hope.

When you are getting ready to say no to your partner, be sure to appreciate the fact that they want to share whatever they have suggested with you. Stay aware of the fact that the requests your partner makes to you are a signal that they want connection with you!

  1. Assert 

This is really a “No” with your walls down. Assert your boundaries so you can make an invitation. When you say “No” here, it allows you to say YES to something else.

Assertion is not an isolation tool. It’s a tool for intimacy. There is a profound difference between surrender and acquiescence. Acquiescence carries the message to self that I can’t get what I really want, so I have to settle.

You don’t have to settle. The message in the world is that you should settle. But you deserve everything you want AND life asks you to grow to the place where you can receive it.

It is crucial to learn how to assert without needing to control or needing to convince others that you’re right. The whole reason you want partnership is because you want a richer, more fulfilling life.

Those annoying traits in your partner are gifts. We pick people who are bringing something we need in our lives.

Invite the change and evolution of your relationship. Meet the challenge of rebirthing. Keep your eyes open to the opportunities for things to get better. Things can’t get better if they stay the same.

Most of us are taught to win. But in relationship that creates a win-lose. You can’t create a loss for your partner without creating a loss for yourself. Whenever one person loses in a partnership, both lose.

Both people need to feel very happy for it to be ecstatic partnership.

And contrary to common wisdom, avoiding conflict is a bad habit. Many of us tell ourselves “There are so many other things that are good about this relationship that I want to avoid this conflict.” But this settling will dull your senses and can lead to addictions such as overeating, smoking, drinking, and even addiction to online porn. It can also lead to depression as we internalize our anger and frustration instead of learning how to assert our desires and our feelings in a positive way that creates more partnership.

Avoiding conflict also kills sex. Our senses are dampened and we may feel bored. Eventually this can lead to sexual dysfunction.

Remember that a vibrant sex life frees up creativity and leads to spiritual fulfillment. Heart-centered sex is the doorway to the Divine.

If you’ve ever been in love and attracted to each other, you can get back in touch with those feelings. But first you need to reconnect your hearts. Stop the power struggle and establish empathy. You can do that by following these five steps!

Assert your boundaries from a place of empathy for yourself and your partner.  Because of your example, your partner will also feel emboldened to assert.

  1. Redirect

Once you have asserted your no, don’t stop there! Help your partner and yourself and your relationship by taking the lead and suggesting something else.

At this stage, you are shifting your “No” to your partner’s suggestion to a “Yes” to something else. This is your opportunity to express one of your desires by proposing something different.

Unfortunately, too many of use are tempted to use guilt, shame or buried resentments to manipulate our partner into agreeing to our suggestions. But when we are patronizing or parental, our partners are more likely to reject our suggestions, resist our recommendations and even stonewall us. It works a lot better when we partner with our partner!

But I have found a very effective way to enlist partnership is to bring your joy to your partner. If you make it about how much you would love to share this with your partner, they are more likely to be attracted to your suggestion and to you.

You might also want to stress that your partner’s idea isn’t bad, but it doesn’t work for you. Then introduce your suggestion with something like this: “Here’s something that’s really exciting for me. Do you think you would enjoy sharing this with me?”

Your partner has every right to say they don’t like your idea either. This is where we need to step even further into the invitation to partnership.

  1. Invite

Too often when the suggestions proposed by each partner do not appeal to either partner, there is a temptation to assume the situation is unresolvable. Too often we think in polarized terms that cause us to assume that if you don’t like my idea and I don’t like your idea, we have no common ground. Nothing could be further from the truth!

This is the place where partnership really kicks in! This is when both people can join together to co-create a third suggestion together!

And you can take the lead at this stage and invite that exquisite partnership. Assure your partner by saying something like: “I’m sure there are things we do want to share. Let’s figure something out together.”

If this is difficult for you and you feel all is lost, assure yourself by reminding yourself to have faith that you chose your partner wisely. Allow that faith to become excitement that whatever the two of you come up with is going to expand both of you further than if you had settled and just agreed to less than what you both desire.

Create a third alternative by asking these questions together:

How can we both get something better than what either of us proposed?

How can we get excited about our conflicting views and weave them together?

How can I show up even more fully? Where can I expand?

Don’t give up because you both said no to each other’s ideas. Come to the discussion with both of your strengths and weaknesses. Set up a time to talk. This can be a fun thing. And this can be very triggering for most of us because we have grown up believing that life is a win/lose proposition. Don’t believe it! When you’re triggered, you can’t see the 3rd alternative. So be gentle with yourself and each other and take your time. This is a great time to get professional help too. Especially if the stakes are high and the topic pertains to sex, money or parenting.

Exquisite Partnership means co-creating a better solution than you could without a partner. Remember a relationship has three aspects – you, the other person, and who you are together

And remember that compromise is settling.  Don’t settle. Partner instead!

This requires a lot of faith in the connection. To get here, you can’t skip steps.

And please do NOT rush to solve the situation too quickly. Too many couples run over the top of their own feelings and the feelings of their partner. That’s skipping the entire engine of relationship.

Finally, when you feel yourself digging in to insist that your way is best, ask yourself - what’s the price you’re going to pay for being right? Competing to be right has no place in your home or your bedroom.  But Exquisite Partnership will take you places you have only dreamed of!

Live from your imagination, not your history. – Steven Covey