About Rick 

       Aviva and I had been together for 26 years when a friend invited me to a communication workshop given by a psychologist I had never heard of, Marshall Rosenberg. I felt open to learning, but I really didn’t expect to hear anything that I hadn’t heard before. Yet at that day’s workshop I felt challenged in a way that I had not anticipated.  I already valued being able to listen to my partner. And at times I listened well. But I didn’t understand what blocked me from listening well at other times. I already valued self-esteem as essential to a successful relationship. But I wasn’t aware of the self-critical thinking in my head—and how it created defensiveness, and criticism of Aviva. I didn’t have a reliable way to move from defending myself to accepting myself in spite of my shortcomings. I already valued moral standards like fairness. But I didn’t realize that the way that I invoked fairness arguments was a subtle guilt trip. 

     Going to that workshop I’d stumbled on a treasure of how to live in partnership. Aviva and I immersed ourselves in learning Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication (NVC). One of the most valuable benefits was learning how to transform my habitual thinking, “She can be so annoying!”  I grew to understand the reasons that I get annoyed. They have to do with my perception that she is blocking me from meeting my needs. Now I remind myself that I am not powerless. I have the tools to communicate my needs. I can understand what prevents her from saying yes. This gives us the basis for finding a Win-Win.

     Inspired by learning these habits of the heart, I quit my electrical contracting business and went back to school to become a marriage and family therapist. Aviva and I started leading couples workshops. The couples who attended appreciated that our role plays were real conflicts from our lives. People laughed in recognition that we share the same insecurities and mistakes. Aviva and I shared our own process of moving from hurt and criticism to kindness and gratitude.

   My kids benefited from my new communication skills. I realized how much I used subtle–and not so subtle–guilt trips to get them to do what I wanted them to do. One time I decided I wasn’t going to pull rank on my son. Read more here.

     Nonviolent Communication is not just a tool for communication. It’s really about changing our habits of thinking, starting with compassion towards ourselves. I’ve seen changes in myself and, as Aviva can attest, I’m not done yet. The more I can empathize with myself, the more I get free from judgmental thinking of her and others. My kindness towards myself spills out towards Aviva. The things that used to annoy me lose power over me.  I’m enjoying the sweetness of feeling my love for Aviva and receiving her kindness and gratitude.