Four Tips To Put Some Spring In your Love

Do Relationships Need Spring Cleaning?

 If spring is about love being in the air, birds singing, flowers blooming, and the urge to do some spring cleaning, then why do you feel like your relationship is still in the deep freeze of winter?  If Spring is about new life- maybe your relationship needs some. Here are some simple ways to thaw it out if you’re willing to learn a few tips from the season of Spring.

Main points in this article: 
1. Never assume they know you appreciate them.
2. Avoiding simple maintenance now could mean an intense overhaul in the future.
3. Concentrate on a few small things.
4. Nothing ever stays the same, and change is inevitable.

1. Take Some Time to Smell The Roses

If you never stop to appreciate the sunshine and flowers of Spring, you’ll miss out on the joy of the whole season. The same thing goes for your relationship. If you don’t take the time to appreciate your partner, you might as well trap your relationship in Winter forever. If you want to get the most out of your relationship, try setting aside one hour to think about all the things about it that you are grateful for and how great your partner is. Then do something really crazy, and tell them. If it feels weird, just say it’s a “Spring thing”. Remember, that unless you say it verbally, your partner does not necessarily know it or feel it! Never assume they know you appreciate them. Think of all the green and flowers around you as constant reminders to share appreciations with our partner to brighten up the relationship. In therapy, a couple’s biggest complaint is often that they both feel under appreciated. Avoiding this problem can be as simple as sharing the little things that you appreciate about your partner instead of keeping them to yourself.

2. Spring cleaning – Face your fears and dive in.

Avoiding simple maintenance now could mean an intense overhaul in the future.

In spring it is easy to get discouraged with all that has to be done after a long hard winter, but a fresh start is worth the work you put in. Making a few small changes sounds like a good idea, but some of us fear the unknown, based on past experiences.  Last year I decided to put a new door into the carport (four hour project, yeah right!) and found a small leak on the deck above my garage. It turned out to be a nightmare renovation.  We ended up discovering a corner beam which holds up the house was rotted through and so were the floor joists in that corner.  Six months later it is all done and I am so happy we did not turn a blind eye to a problem that would have eventually collapsed half our house.   Sometimes you have tried to talk about stuff in the past with your partner and it feels like your opening up Pandora’s Box.

Rest assured that if you avoid problems now, they will not get better in the future. Dr. John Gottman’s research has proven that couples, who avoid problems, avoid closeness and eventually end up miserable or divorced. Take time this Spring to dialogue about your wishes, dreams and needs and don’t be afraid to tackle even the issues that may seem intimidating.

3. Spring Flowers look great… AFTER the weeds are picked.

Beautiful gardens don’t just happen; they are created by picking the weeds. One way to weed a relationship that gets instant results is to ask how connected your partner is feeling. It might feel like a risky question that could invite negative responses about how you have fallen short. What usually happens however, is that you show that you care, and that you want to connect more with your partner. Just like weeding a flower bed, no matter how efficient you were the week before the weeds are back again next week. Don’t be surprised that a relationship is the same way. Staying connected is a day to day process and you can’t rest on all of the positives of the week before. The emotional bank account needs regular attention, so keep checking in. Pick that first weed by finding out one thing that your partner needs to feel back on track.  Usually it is as simple as making a commitment to spend a little more time together.

Some couples feel that they need to fix everything all at once for things to improve, but really what is needed is concentration on a few small things. 

It doesn’t take a lot of weeding before the flowers become visible in the garden, and in a relationship small changes can have huge impacts.

4. Finally, remember no matter how dull or grey a season gets, there is always going to be a spring.

It reminds us that nothing ever stays the same, and change is inevitable. Relationships also go through seasons of change and if you want to be a present and engaged partner,you will need to keep up. One way to do that is to ask your partner what has been changing in their life or what they are looking forward to this spring. Knowing about what is happening in your partner’s life and what they are anticipating in the future will helps the two of you feel connected so that you can move forward together.

Thank you for reading, and I hope that these ideas create possibilities for a great conversation over an ice cold glass of lemonade, enjoying the sunshine and the fresh air of a new relationship.

Written by: Darren Wilk      Edited by: Lawrence Stoyanowski

Gottman Endorsement of Darren Wilk and Lawrence Stoyanowski

To Whom it may concern,

This letter is written in support of Mr. Darren Wilk and Mr. Lawrence Stoyanowski. Both are Certified Gottman Therapists in excellent standing with The Gottman Institute (TGI).


Both Lawrence and Darren are TGI senior trainers. They are two of our thirteen Master Trainers worldwide.

As speakers and presenters their aim is to help facilitate, and inspire other clinicians to blend the Gottman Method into their practice and realize the benefits of this wonderful modality. They have presented numerous times in different Gottman trainings and workshops which include The Art and Science of Love Gottman Workshops (ASL) as well as teaching Level One and Two Gottman Method to other clinicians, and delivering presentations at the Annual Gottman Conference. Both Darren and Lawrence are also certified to train clinicians in Level Three of the Gottman Method. Their leadership roles and experience at The Gottman Institute includes being Certified Gottman Therapists, Certified Gottman ASL presenters, Level I & Level 2 & Level 3 Gottman Method Trainers, Gottman Media Consultants and ASL Presenter Trainers.

They are both strong presenters with great depth of knowledge, much experience and a wonderful sense of humor. Their evaluations from therapists and couples over the years have been stellar.

We do recommend them highly.

If I can be of assistance to you in any way, or if you are needing additional information please feel free to contact me at any time.

Alan Kunovsky
The Gottman Institute

The 10 Habits that Keep Marriages Strong

The key to wedded bliss isn’t over-the-top romance, but these surprisingly simple practices you can do to stay – or fall back – in love with your partner. By Holly Corbett,REDBOOK.

Not trying to change each other

Maybe you wish he folded his socks, or that he would chat it up with your friends without prompting. But, his inability to notice hair in the sink may stem from the laid-back personality that drew you to him in the first place. “One of the things we see with happy couples is that they know their partner’s differences, and have pretty much stopped trying to change

the other person,” says Darren Wilk, a certified Gottman Couples Therapist with a private practice in Vancouver, British Columbia. “Rather than trying to fight their partner’s personality style, they instead focus on each other’s strengths.” To better understand how to tap into both of your best qualities, take this quick relationship personality quiz.

Framing your demands as favors
Whether you want him to unload the dishwasher more often or pay closer attention to the kids, your partner will be more likely to change his behavior if he feels like he’ll get relationship brownie points. “Throw it out there like a favor. Present it like ‘here is the recipe for what will make me happy,’ because everyone wants to make their partner feel happy,” says Wilk. “When you present your needs, present them as what you do want rather than what you don’t want.” Instead of saying, “I hate when you have to have everything scheduled,” try saying, “I would love to have a day where we can just be spontaneous.”

See rest of article by clicking here. 

Successful Conflict


Four Steps For Successful Conflict
Plus upcoming workshop news



Four Steps For Successful Conflict

Start with Softened Start Up

The first step (of a 4 step process) to successful conflict management is ‘Softened Start Up’.  Softened Start Up refers to the way one chooses to begin a conflict discussion. Interestingly, 96% of the time you can predict the outcome of a conversation based on its first 3 minutes. If the conversation starts with harsh words, chances are the conversation will remain and end negatively.

Softened Start Up is easy and fortunately you already have the skills to do it! It’s about being gentle, kind and respectful when you bring up a conflict discussion. If you can start your conflict discussions in this gentle way, you have a great chance of ending it amicably and coming to a compromise.

 The following are the 4 steps to Softened Start Up:

1. Begin with a complaint rather then a criticism. A complaint is a statement of fact. When you add blame, character assassination or “always” or “never” statements it becomes a criticism. “The bedroom is a mess” is a complaint. When you say, “the bedroom is a mess, you’re such a slob” its a criticism.

Continued to the right…

Successful Conflict Continued.

2. Make “I’ instead of “you” statements. Begin your complaint by owning your feelings in the situation rather than blaming the other person. For example “I would like you  to listen to me” rather than “you are not listening to me”.


3. Describe what is happening; don’t evaluate or judge. “We haven’t gone out  in over a month and I really miss that.” rather than “you never take me out!”


4. Talk clearly about what you need. Be specific about what you want from the discussion rather then hinting at it or saying what you do not want. Try “I’d appreciate it if you would help me straighten up the playroom” rather then “The playroom is a disaster!”

 If you follow these tips when addressing conflict, you will have a much better chance, to manage it in a way that will help to maintain relationship satisfaction. By dealing with conflict in a healthy and respectful way, not only does your relationship benefit but so do your children. The research is clear on the major impact that relationship quality has on parenting and the emotional and physical health of your children.

Change Your Relationship Without Changing Your Partner.

Upcoming Couples Workshops in 2012

Feb. 25-26, 2012
The Art & Science of Love
Couples workshop


April 11-15, 2012
The Art & Science Of Love and Cycling Retreat
Tucson, Arizona
Click here for details

April 20-22, 2012
The Art & Science Of Love
Weekend Retreat
Whistler, The Brew Creek Centre.
Click here for details

Calgary, May 26-27, 2012
The Art & Science of Love
Couples Workshop
Click here for details

July 5-8, 2012
The Art & Science Of Love
4 day Retreat
Hollyhock Canadian Learning Center,
Cortes Island, BC
Click here for details

Gottman Level 2, Assessment, Intervention & Co-morbidities.
Brought to you by:
The Justice Institute of BC &

After many discussions and brainstorming sessions Gottman Level 2 is finally here once again!  Certified Gottman Consultants/Presenters, Darren Wilk and Lawrence Stoyanowski, have joined forces with TheJustice Institute of BC to provide the Gottman Level 2 on June 4-7th in Vancouver, BC.  Later in the Fall we will be offering theLevel 3 to compliment this training so that therapists from Canada can become completely certified  never having to leave the country.  We know this has been long in coming and we apologize for changing the dates from earlier in the year, however  this has made it possible to do this in coordination with the JIBC and will give opportunity for more therapists to attend.  Please keep in mind attendance will be limited, so once registration opens, do not hesitate to confirm your spot.  The on-line registration is not open yet but if you are interested, respond to this email and we will put your name at the top of the list of potential attendees and notify you as soon as the online registration goes live.  For more information about the Level 2 you can visit our website at Gottman level 2 trainings.

Level 3 coming Sept 17-20th , 2012 at the JIBC or Calgary, AB, May 22-25, 2012.

Coming for the 1st time to Canada in 2012 – Gottman Level 3 Certification For Therapists presented by Darren Wilk and Lawrence Stoyanowski.  

Take care of each other….



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A relationship is like a fragile ecosystem!

A Relationship is like a Fragile Ecosystem, Please Handle With Care. 
October vol 1: issue 10
I recently thought of another way to help couples understand the harmful effects of criticism, blame and personal attacks when in conflict discussion. The relationship needs to be seen like a fragile ecosystem.  It is a well documented fact in Dr. John Gottman’s research that couples that end up getting divorced are not necessarily super negative or critical.  In fact they are pretty good to each other half the time and half the time they say hurtful things or attack their partner.  The problem is they do not realize the destructive power of a negative conversation or statement. It takes 5 times more good stuff to make up for something negative, just to get back to neutral territory.  Research is clear that couples with good marriages spend 95% of their time being nice and friendly to their partner in their day to day routine and 83% in a conflict discussion.  This might seem extreme, but even at this rate they do not feel like they are over the moon in love, they just feel good about the relationship and more or less like each other.

Couples have to realize it does not take much, to destroy a week or a year of good times.  One really bad week can erase 5 good weeks.  What this means is be more careful with each other or expect to do a lot of making up, just to recover.   According to Pavlov, if you want to extinguish a certain good behavior just use a little shock therapy with the rat in the maze and it will very quickly learn to not go down that path again.  In order to encourage it to try that path again it will take a lot of cheese, Gottman’s theory holds true for rats as well.

The Bottom line is, relationships are always in a cost/benefit analysis and contrary to popular opinion are like a fragile ecosystem. I remember hiking in the Mount Saint Helens  area recently, and even though it has been over 30 years since the eruption the surrounding environment is still extremely fragile.  So much so that they were warning people that if they left the path, it could result in a $1000 dollar fine.  There were rangers everywhere keeping an eye out for transgressors.  I stayed on the path, but at times the mischievous person in me wanted to challenge the rule and touch the fringe, but out of respect and love for the beauty, we were surrounded with, I followed the rules. Relationships are no different.  No matter how long you have been together remember to treat the environment with care and stay on the path.  Please handle your relationship with care and be gentle with one another.  You will then be able to focus more on having fun and enjoying the beauty of your relationship.

Darren Wilk, MA, RCC and Co-owner of