The average couple has trouble in their relationship for six years before seeking help, says Jen Elmquist, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Excelsior. She’s worked with many couples in private practice over the last 10 years, and they were often in crisis by the time they came to see her. “They were stressed out, worn out, and the work was exhausting, because they were already emotionally drained,” she says. “We did good work and had success, but I wished I could get to couples before they came to me. That was the impetus for Relationship Reset.”
Elmquist’s new book, Relationship Reset: Revolutionize Your Love for a Lifetime, is accompanied by an online experience at ourreset.com, which offers videos and live webinars. This combination, Elmquist says, is accessible, private and affordable—which is not always the case with traditional couples therapy.
Stigma can also keep people from therapy. But “there’s not a couple out there that can fall in love, get together and then do nothing and [have their relationship] thrive for a lifetime,” Elmquist says. “Giving focus and attention to working on your relationship is really important.”
The Relationship Reset program has three elements. The first is understanding what’s normal: All relationships go through uncomfortable stages and conflicts, says Elmquist. “Mindbenders” is the second piece. “A simple example is that if you spend time thinking negatively about your partner and relationship, you’re going to experience a negative relationship,” Elmquist says. The opposite also holds true—you can instead choose to “bend” your thoughts in a positive direction.
The third part, “muscle builders,” are relationship-strengthening exercises. Just as physical exercise helps keep your body strong, Elmquist says, spending time on your relationship gives you the “muscles” you need to sustain it.
Any relationship can benefit from Relationship Reset, Elmquist says. Though she’d love to reach couples with vital information before things seem dire, the program can be a resource at any stage. “The key is normalizing for people that relationships do ebb and flow, and it’s normal to get to places in a relationship where you’re feeling a little discouraged.”
Elmquist’s husband, Jess, has been a sounding board for business and brand decisions, presented with Jen at live events, and helped create some of the exercises. One favorite exercise for the Elmquists is the “epic kiss,” a muscle-builder based on research that found a six-second kiss creates a deeper sense of intimacy. Instead of the rushed kisses couples often exchange, the challenge is to slow down for an epic kiss every time.
“I guess our relationship of [more than] 25 years is also a ‘proof’ that the principles of Relationship Reset work when they are put to work,” Jess says. He and Jen love boating together on the St. Croix River and Lake Minnetonka, and spending time outdoors. “We’ve taken in the best Minnesota has to offer in all our years living here,” Jennifer says.