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Welcome Caroline!

Posted on Saturday, November 1st, 2014 by Sanctuary staff

Caroline Timmins, LMFT
We are delighted to introduce Caroline Timmins, our newest staff member. Caroline is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and a wonderful addition to our staff!

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Gottman Repair Checklist

Posted on Sunday, July 13th, 2014 by Sanctuary staff

I Feel

  1. 1. I’m getting scared
  2. 2. Please say that more gently.
  3. 3. Did I do something wrong?
  4. 4. That hurt my feelings.
  5. 5. That felt like an insult.
  6. 6. I’m feeling sad.
  7. 7. I feel blamed. Can you rephrase that?
  8. 8. Please don’t lecture me.
  9. 9. I don’t feel like you understand.
  10. 10.Sounds like it’s all my fault.
  11. 11. I feel criticized. Can you rephrase that?
  12. 12. I’m getting worried.
  13. 13. Please don’t withdraw.



  1. 1. My reactions were too extreme. Sorry.
  2. 2. I really blew that one.
  3. 3. Let me try again.
  4. 4. I want to be gentler to you right now and I don’t know how.
  5. 5. Tell me what you hear me saying.
  6. 6. I can see my part in all this.
  7. 7. How can I make things better?
  8. 8. Let’s try that one over again.
  9. 9. What you are saying is…
  10. 10. Let me start again in a softer way.
  11. 11. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.


Get To Yes

  1. 1. You’re starting to convince me.
  2. 2. I agree with part of what you’re saying.
  3. 3. Let’s compromise here.
  4. 4. Let’s find our common ground.
  5. 5. I never thought of things that way.
  6. 6. This problem is not very serious in the big picture.
  7. 7. I think your point of view makes sense.
  8. 8. Let’s agree to include both of our views in a solution.


I Need To Calm Down

  1. 1. Can you make things safer for me?
  2. 2. I need things to be calmer right now.
  3. 3. I need your support right now.
  4. 4. Just listen to me right now and try to understand.
  5. 5. Tell me you love me.
  6. 6. Can I have a kiss?
  7. 7. Can I take that back?
  8. 8. Please be gentler with me.
  9. 9. Please help me calm down.
  10. 10. Please be quiet and listen to me.
  11. 11. This is important to me. Please listen to me.
  12. 12. I need to finish what I was saying.
  13. 13. I am starting to feel flooded.
  14. 14. Can we take a break?
  15. 15. Can we talk about something else for awhile?


Stop Action!

  1. 1. I might be wrong here.
  2. 2. Please, let’s stop for awhile.
  3. 3. Let’s take a break.
  4. 4. Give me a moment, I’ll be back.
  5. 5. I’m feeling flooded.
  6. 6. Please stop.
  7. 7. Let’s agree to disagree here.
  8. 8. Let’s start all over again.
  9. 9. Hang in there. Don’t withdraw.
  10. 10. I want to change the topic.
  11. 11. We are getting off track.


I Appreciate

  1. 1. I know this isn’t your fault.
  2. 2. My part of this problem is…
  3. 3. I see your point.
  4. 4. Thank you for…
  5. 5. That’s a agood point.
  6. 6. We are both saying…
  7. 7. I understand.
  8. 8. I love you.
  9. 9. I am thankful for…
  10. 10. One thing I admire about you is…
  11. 11. I see what you mean.
  12. 12. This is not your problem, it’s OUR problem.
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The Positive Perspective

Posted on Sunday, March 9th, 2014 by Sanctuary staff

by Darcy Hakkarainen

In the last several newsletters I have been sharing concepts about strengthening marriages that have emerged in the 35+ years of research conducted on relationships by Drs. John and Julie Gottman. This research led to the creation of the Sound Relationship House Theory that offers guidelines for increasing marital satisfaction by focusing on seven levels of the house.  The foundation of the house, on which all else stands, is Love Maps, knowing your partner by having a map of their internal psychological world.  This is a foundation of friendship.  The second level, built on the first, is the Fondness and Admiration System, which is the communication of affection and respect.  In the last newsletter I wrote about the third level, which is making “bids” for emotional connection and responding to those bids to fill up the emotional bank account of the relationship.

The fourth level of the house describes the Positive Perspective of a relationship, “which means having faith in your relationship and giving your partner the benefit of the doubt when things go wrong,” (p. 17 Bringing Baby Home Couples Workbook).  In some ways, if you have faithfully built the first three levels of the Sound Relationship House, this level happens fairly naturally.  When I am feeling emotionally connected, supported and understood in my relationship with my husband then all interactions get “filtered” through this positive lens. I assume the best. If he is “short” in his tone with me I might think, “he had a hard day” instead of “he is rude” or “being a jerk.”

Training your mind to look for the positive and then expressing it as ahabit of actions is helpful in building and maintaining a positive perspective of your relationship.  Additionally, sharing joys and using positive humor as well as demonstrating concern, care, interest, appreciation and making time to connect emotionally daily are other ways to foster the positive perspective in your marriage.

Image courtesy of tungphoto /

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Rich Marriage: Bid to fill the bank!

Posted on Sunday, February 9th, 2014 by Sanctuary staff

by Darcy

Drs. John and Julie Gottman have spent over 40 years researching marriage stability with thousands of couples.  They have discovered that marriages are stronger when we are aware of our partner’s needs and respond to those needs.  A “bid” is the way a person conveys what they need in that moment; it expresses a need for emotional connection.  Learning to make and recognize bids will create an “emotional bank account” for your relationship. Bids are often small things such as getting your partner’s attention, making conversation, showing humor, affection, support, empathy, and so on.  There are three ways we respond to bids:

  • ignore the bid and “turn away.” This response is not necessarily mean-spirited. The one receiving the bid may be on “automatic pilot” and not tuned in to their partner and the partner’s needs.
  • be irritable and “turn against.”  A critical or crabby retort depletes the emotional bank account of the relationship and leads to increased conflict.
  • respond to the bid and “turn toward.” Moments of turning toward are crucial for maintaining intimacy and for creating passion and romance in your relationship; they fill the emotional bank account.

How we choose to connect with our spouse (fill the emotional bank account) or fail to connect (deplete the emotional bank account) is a matter of choices and priorities.  “Small things often” may be a good motto for building up this aspect of your relationship with your spouse.  And, as another benefit, the Gottmans’ research concluded that turning toward is not only the basis for maintaining the friendship in your relationship, but it is also the basis for effective repair of conflict.

Image courtesy of suphakit73 /

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Refresh your marriage

Posted on Thursday, January 9th, 2014 by Sanctuary staff

Darcy-4w-2by Darcy

Many people think of the new year as a clean slate or a fresh start.  In our relationships a “fresh start” may feel harder to come by.  Because relationships are with someone who is, by definition, not us, disagreements, hurts, and perpetual problems happen along the way.

Sometimes, for me, my marriage feels easy and smooth and it is easy to think really great things about my husband.  Other times things feel tougher and it is tempting to begin thinking negatively about him.

Based on his research with couples that spans decades, John Gottman, Ph.D. urges couples to nurture fondness and admiration in their relationship. He finds that these two elements are crucial in a rewarding and lasting romance.

Fondness and admiration show that our spouse is worthy of honor and respect, flaws and all.  They are the antidote to contempt.  For some, a renewed focus on “having a fundamentally positive view of your spouse and your marriage” (The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, p. 65) is a welcome exercise and for others this requires a deliberate and perhaps very difficult training of the mind.

By nature, we tend to move toward that which we focus on. If we are meditating on the negative personality traits of our spouses it is easy to see more and more of it.  The opposite is true as well.  For the Christian, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 is useful in an effort to take captive thoughts which need to be made obedient to Christ.  I find that a deep remembering of Christ’s death on the cross for me and my desperate need of His grace also helps me.

Phillippians 4:8-9reminds me to dwell on those things that are right and true. To that end I find an exercise by Dr. Gary Smalley to be helpful. In one of his books he details keeping a log of things his wife does for him and the many things he appreciates about her.  When he finds himself meditating on the things about her that frustrate or anger him he reads this list.  This helps him shift gears to a more positive way of thinking thereby nurturing fondness and admiration.

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