Falling In Love Again With Your Spouse: Jill Robin Payne On 5 Things You Need To Rekindle Love In A Marriage That Has Gone Cold

Authority Magazine
Authority Magazine
Published in
20 min readFeb 4, 2024

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Team Work: A crucial aspect of reigniting the flame lies in the acknowledgement of each partner’s role in their current situation. It’s about understanding that the dynamics of the relationships are a shared responsibility, rather than laying blame on one another.

When people first get married, they are usually deeply in love and extremely excited to be together. But sometimes, over time, that passion and excitement begins to fade. This has been particularly true after the pandemic, when many marriages went through great upheavals. What can a couple do to rekindle the love and excitement that they used to have when they were first together? In this interview series, called “Falling In Love Again With Your Spouse; 5 Things You Need To Rekindle Love In A Marriage That Has Gone Cold,” we are talking to relationship professionals, therapists, psychologists, and coaches to share stories and insights from their experience. As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jill Robin Payne.

Jill Robin Payne, MA, LPC-S, LCDC, a licensed psychotherapist with 40 years of experience, is a Relationship Specialist and author of two relationship books. Specializing in mood disorders, addiction, anxiety, and trauma, she employs Bempathy®, a digital-age communication technique, to help individuals build lasting connections in work, home, school, and love. With a focus on fostering genuine connections, Jill guides people toward the right mindset and behaviors to achieve their dreams. Her expertise has been shared through lectures, college teaching, and national media appearances. Based in Houston, she runs a private practice.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Growing up in a dynamic family where my father, an Ophthalmologist, and my mother, an activist, played influential roles, my journey to becoming a psychotherapist dedicated to helping others achieve their dreams took shape. The unique challenges within my family, particularly having a brother with paranoid schizophrenia, ignited my passion for improving the lives of those facing mental health challenges. This personal connection fueled my commitment to breaking down the stigma associated with mental illness and advocating for holistic well-being.

From my early years as the only girl and the third-born in a family of six in D.C., I learned the invaluable lessons of sharing and understanding that life doesn’t always unfold as planned. My experiences with my brother’s mental health struggles exposed me to life’s imperfections and the hurdles it can present. Witnessing my parents’ commitment to charitable endeavors and community service instilled in me the value of contributing to the greater good and the awareness that others face more significant hardships. Volunteering became a core value, emphasizing making a positive impact on others’ lives while sustaining our own pursuit of enjoyment.

After graduation, my journey from D.C. to Houston involved diverse career shifts, starting as a recreational therapist with the aspiration of establishing my own business. Despite personal challenges, including my parents’ divorce, my own divorce after supporting my husband through Law School, and a life-altering car accident during my son’s college years, I pursued a master’s program working to achieve a dream of having my own business. Working multiple jobs to support myself and stay actively involved in my son’s life, I navigated through the aftermath of the accident that left me with serious injuries. My determination and positive outlook enabled me to bounce back, regaining strength and resilience over a two-year recovery period finally to achieve a dream of having my own business.

These experiences have molded me into a strong and tenacious individual, always ready to overcome any obstacle that comes my way. If you’ve faced the complexities of family dynamics, personal challenges, or the pursuit of holistic well-being, these stories may resonate with you. Join me in recognizing the strength within, overcoming obstacles, and embracing the tenacity to navigate life’s unpredictable journey to reach your dream.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Imagine being married for over 12 years, navigating the challenges of parenthood, and desperately seeking a therapist to save your marriage — only to find yourself facing divorce. It’s a story many of us can relate to, a journey filled with heartbreak and searching for answers. This personal experience led me to dedicate three decades of my life to pioneering an innovative therapeutic approach called Bempathy® that I trademarked and a process that is copyrighted.

Bempathy® is more than a methodology; it’s a game-changer that seamlessly blends banter and empathy, providing a lifeline for individuals facing significant challenges in their relationships. Picture this: people not only triumphing over divorce but rediscovering joy, remarrying their partners, and transitioning from isolation to a surplus of friendships. The impact extends beyond personal relationships, influencing an improvement in their work environment — a pleasantly overwhelming experience that resonates with anyone who has faced adversity.

This remarkable journey has inspired me to share transformative experiences in two impactful books. “Bempathy®: Looking Thru Children’s Eyes To Simplify Communication,” aims to help people hone their communication and social skills, improving interactions with others, fostering more genuine connections in all aspects of life. It is available now on Amazon. And there’s more to come — anticipate my upcoming release, “Meeting People: It’s Not A Game — Your Path To Genuine Connections Thru Bempathy®,” a real and raw exploration of finding and maintaining genuine connections, scheduled to be out in January.

These aren’t just books; they’re invitations to empathize, connect, and transform. Whether you’ve faced the complexities at work, home life, marriage, divorce, or the search for genuine connections, these stories resonate. Join me in unraveling the extraordinary success of Bempathy®, gaining invaluable insights, and seamlessly incorporating this revolutionary approach into your life. It’s a journey of unlocking the potential to realize the relationships of your dreams — an invitation to connect, empathize, and find your own path to genuine connections.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?

Making mistakes can actually be pretty interesting. In my job, we see mistakes as opportunities to become even better and learn from them. I don’t know if I have any funny mistakes, but I’ve noticed a pattern in mine — I used to trust people too easily. Basically, I’ve figured out on my life journey that talking too much can make you vulnerable and give others too much control. So, I’ve learned that it’s important to keep things simple and not share too much, because revealing too many details can take away your power.

The key is to understand your own limits and the limits of others, and that comes with being patient, gaining experience over time.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each? Adaptability, empathy, and Resilience.

Over the years, my capacity to adapt and remain flexible in various situations has played a crucial role in my journey toward success. Navigating the fluctuations of the economy and adapting to changes in my profession has been essential. Being able to seamlessly mold myself into different situations, acquire knowledge, and integrate it with my own experiences has contributed to developing a more eclectic approach. This versatility is particularly beneficial when engaging with individuals in psychotherapy, as it allows me to connect with a diverse range of people by drawing on a rich blend of insights and skills.

Empathy is a powerful trait that has served as a cornerstone in my professional journey, enabling me to offer insightful support to my clients. Through a compassionate understanding of their aspirations, I guide them on a transformative journey from point A to B, all while infusing the process with a sense of joy and fulfillment. This empathetic approach not only fosters a deep connection but also makes the path to achieving their dreams a positively engaging and enjoyable experience.

Resilience is an indispensable quality that we all need to navigate life’s journey, and I am no exception. The rollercoaster of business challenges can indeed be overwhelming, emphasizing the significance of maintaining a positive outlook. I firmly believe in the power of optimism, both in people and in ourselves. A dear friend affectionately calls me the “energizer bunny” due to my unwavering commitment to never giving up and always holding onto a belief in the inherent goodness of people and the limitless possibilities life has to offer.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Exciting news! My second book is on its way, and it’s called “Meeting People: It’s Not A Game — Your Path to Genuine Connections Thru Bempathy®.” It’s set to hit the shelves in January.

In a world where there’s a ton of information flying around and so many choices, my book is a helpful guide. It’s made to make life simpler when it comes to relationships — making friends, finding partners, and even getting married and keeping what you get sizzling.

Inside the book, you’ll discover tips on how to find and make relationships less complicated. It’s like a roadmap for making and keeping connections with others. With all the info out there, “Meeting People” is like a handy tool, giving you strategies not just for making connections but also for keeping them strong.

Get ready for an adventure as you read about relationships, all explained through something called Bempathy. This book isn’t just a regular read — it’s meant to be a super useful tool for anyone dealing with the tricky world of human connections in our busy and info-packed time. Get ready for lots of helpful ideas and ways to make your relationships better in the crazy world we live in!

For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly tell our readers why you are an authority about the topic of marriage?

For more than three decades, my career has been dedicated to guiding couples on their journey to authentic connections with their partners. My passion for this work was ignited by a personal experience. After supporting my husband through law school, we faced a challenging period in our relationship. Despite our earnest search for a qualified therapist to help us navigate through the rough patches, we couldn’t find the right person, and sadly, our journey ended in divorce, leaving me as a single mother to a two-year-old.

This fueled my determination to spare others from the heartache we endured. My mission, then and now, is to be the support system that I wished we had found during our own struggles. Through my work, my aspiration is to empower couples, offering them the tools and guidance needed to build lasting, meaningful connections and prevent the pain of separation

Ok. Thank you for that. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘How to Rekindle Love In A Marriage That Has Gone Cold’. Based on your experience, what is a common root cause of marriages “going cold”?

In my practice, three common issues that can cause couples to grow distant are either disrespect, growing in different directions, or problems communicating, leading to a disconnect, or sometimes all three.

It all depends on whether there is too much water under the bridge causing a breakdown or if one person wants a divorce. These are important factors.

  • In the intricate dance of marriage, reigniting the flame of love demands a combination of dedication, effort, and effective communication. Each relationship has uniqueness so this is suggestions that may serve as a roadmap for couples seeking to rediscover the passion in their unions.
  • Respectful Communication with Empathy: Engage in candid and open conversations about your emotions. Share your concerns while actively listening to your partner’s perspective without passing judgment. Focus on the ‘wants’ not the ‘don’t wants!’
  • Quality not Quantity. In other words it may only take 5 minutes a day to put down all electronics in another room and focus on the two you. “A safe spot.”
  • Intimacy: Communicate your love through both words and actions to continually convey appreciation. Romancing each other.
  • No one is perfect, not even you: decreases pressure, increases forgiveness and makes it easier to move on when mistakes occur.
  • Seeking Professional Guidance if all else fails: Consider the valuable insights of couples therapy or counseling with a neutral third party.

In my experience with helping others in relationship difficulty, I most often hear “lack of communication” as the reason for the difficulty or wanting to end the relationship. I believe that lack of communication is really a symptom of the real root cause, which is “loss of connection.” What must be done to regain that connection?

In today’s fast-paced digital era, consciously setting aside our electronic devices to establish a designated “safe zone” can foster an environment where genuine verbal communication takes precedence over the constant pull of technology. Engaging in enjoyable activities together, even in moments of comfortable silence, transcends the need for words. The infusion of fun into shared experiences triggers the release of dopamine, a potent neurotransmitter that acts as a natural mood enhancer, promoting a sense of well-being. This positive influence not only amplifies feelings of joy but also encourages the pursuit of positive aspects in relationships, fostering deeper intimacy.

Based on your experience, what is the foundation for a successful marriage?

Respect, Commitment, humor and patience.

Drawing from personal experiences, the cornerstone of a thriving marriage is built upon a solid foundation comprising key pillars: respect, unwavering commitment, a touch of humor, and the virtue of patience. These elements collectively contribute to the strength and resilience needed to navigate the complexities of a lasting and fulfilling marital union. In essence, fostering mutual respect, maintaining steadfast dedication, injecting humor into the daily tapestry, and exercising patience form the bedrock upon which successful marriages are constructed.

It has been said that “a healthy, happy marriage is the union of two generous forgivers”. Can you talk about why forgiveness is so important for a relationship to thrive?

There are several reasons why forgiveness plays a pivotal role in the well-being of a partnership. It is an essential tool for emotional healing. It helps individuals let go of hurt, resentment, and pain, creating a space for healing and renewal. This emotional healing is vital for the overall health of the relationship. This fosters a deeper understanding of each other’s emotions and perspectives, contributing to increased empathy within the relationship. Realizing no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes including ourselves helps us to look at the many sides and perspective of situations. This increases a safe environment which encourages open and honest dialogue, enabling couples to express their feelings, concerns, and needs more freely thereby increasing trust. Trust and respect cultivate a positive atmosphere motivating couples to have a committed relationship.

Forgiveness is a powerful catalyst for growth, healing, and the overall flourishing of a relationship. It requires a generosity of spirit, humility, and a shared commitment to building a future together that is stronger and more resilient than the challenges of the past.

Based on your experience, why do you think couples struggle to forgive and be forgiven?

In the intricate dance of relationships, forgiveness emerges as a key component for growth and resilience. While personal experiences and opinions may vary, insights into common reasons why some couples grapple with forgiveness shed light on the challenges inherent in this delicate process.

The formidable barricades of ego and pride can obstruct the path to forgiveness. For some, admitting fault or vulnerability proves a formidable task, resulting in a reluctance to extend or accept apologies. In the labyrinth of relationships, ineffective communication acts as a persistent foe. Misunderstandings escalate, hindering the seeking and offering of forgiveness. A lack of clear, empathetic communication leaves grievances unresolved.

The pursuit of perfection in a partner or relationship sets a lofty standard that, when unmet, breeds disappointment and frustration. This disparity can create barriers, making the extension of forgiveness a challenging endeavor. Lingering resentment from unresolved issues can cast a shadow over the forgiveness landscape. Clinging to grudges makes it arduous to release negative emotions and embark on the journey of genuine forgiveness.

The vulnerability required for forgiveness can be a daunting prospect. Fear of emotional exposure and the potential for renewed hurt or appearing weak can hinder the forgiveness process. The cornerstone of understanding — empathy — is often absent in the forgiveness equation. Failure to appreciate a partner’s perspective or feelings may impede the empathetic connection necessary for forgiveness.

Cultural and familial values wield a substantial influence. Upbringing and societal norms shape beliefs about forgiveness, adding complexity to the challenge of breaking free from ingrained patterns. A pattern of repeated transgressions tests the fabric of forgiveness. Erosion of trust accompanies these offenses, making it increasingly difficult to believe in the sincerity of apologies and extend forgiveness.

Emotional turbulence can hinder the forgiveness process. Individuals grappling with difficulties in emotional regulation may find it challenging to approach forgiveness with a clear and calm mindset. The struggle to release past hurts is a common hurdle. The inability to let go of negative emotions poses a significant challenge to the forgiveness journey.

The weight of external pressures, be it societal expectations or financial stress, adds an extra layer of complexity to relationship dynamics. These external factors can divert attention from the forgiveness process. Fundamental disparities in values, priorities, or life goals create substantial roadblocks. Such misalignments make it challenging for couples to find common ground and extend or receive forgiveness.

Overcoming these challenges demands a commitment to open communication, empathy, and a willingness to understand each other. The path to forgiveness is often navigated more successfully with the guidance of professionals, such as couples therapy, fostering personal and collective growth. In the tapestry of relationships, understanding and surmounting these hurdles pave the way for a healthier, more resilient connection.

Is it important for marriage partners to inspire each other to be the best version of themselves that they can be? Can you please explain what you mean?

Encouraging partners to inspire each other is integral to a successful marriage, rooted in the belief that a supportive relationship fuels individual growth and overall vitality. This reciprocal journey fosters personal development, benefiting individuals and enhancing relationship dynamics. Pursuing shared goals fortifies the bond, while positive reinforcement and effective communication empower partners to pursue aspirations. Inspiring resilience, overcoming challenges together, and preventing complacency through mutual encouragement contribute to ongoing personal growth. Creating a supportive atmosphere enhances emotional well-being and fosters fulfillment, celebrating individuality and promoting autonomy. This process strengthens emotional connections, contributing to long-term relationship satisfaction derived from shared growth. Emphasizing a balance and ensuring inspiration stems from encouragement, not pressure, fosters an environment where both partners thrive personally and as a couple.

What is the difference between marriage partners being “a team” and not just “a couple”?

Being marriage partners as a team and being a couple involves differences in the level of collaboration, shared goals, and the approach to challenges within the relationship.

In simple terms, being a team means working closely together and having common goals. It’s using words such as “we, us and our” a lot because both partners actively help each other and build a future together. On the other hand, being a couple might mean each person does their own thing more, and they focus on the relationship, but not always on shared plans for the future.

Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Rekindle Love In A Marriage That Has Gone Cold?” Can you please give a story or example for each?

Rekindling love in a marriage takes work, the willing to commit to move forward and the ability to communicate your wants and needs.

Five elements:

1 . Commitment: Both parties’ mindset should commit to moving forward. A good example is

when people come into my office and have one foot in and one foot out the door, they will either continue to be stuck or separate. I let people know you are not fifty percent of the marriage you are hundred percent. You don’t just put half of you in a relationship! You put your whole self in. It can be scary because we don’t know what the future brings only the present so you might as well enjoy the journey by being ‘all in.’

2. Team Work: A crucial aspect of reigniting the flame lies in the acknowledgement of each partner’s role in their current situation. It’s about understanding that the dynamics of the relationships are a shared responsibility, rather than laying blame on one another.

Teamwork becomes a transformative force when couples recognize that the challenges, they face are not solely the fault of the other person. It involves a collective effort to understand and appreciate the complexities that have led to the current state of the relationship. This shift in perspective is fundamental to rebuilding the foundation and fostering s sense of unity.

In my counseling sessions, I often witness the power of teamwork when couples move beyond the blame game. Instead of pointing fingers, they embark on a journey of self-reflection, acknowledging their individual contributions to the dynamics of the relationship. This introspection becomes a crucial step towards rebuilding trust and connection.

Realizing one’s part in the relationship’s dynamic requires humility and a commitment to work together. It involves open communication, active listening, and a shared vision for the future. Teamwork allows couples to break free from the cycle of negativity, fostering an environment where both partners feel valued and understood.

By embracing the concept of Teamwork, couples can navigate the complexities of their relationship and recognizing that the journey of marriage is a joint venture where when one person loses both parties loose and one person wins then it’s a win for the team.

3. Misattribution: “Spice it up with misattributing!” When you do an exciting activity with your partner, we tend to attribute are heart racing and excitement to your partner that you are with. Doing exhilarating things such as go carting, rock climbing, exercising, anything that make your heart race you will have a tendency to associate that with whom you are with. The same is true if you do something negative or are in a smelly place you will associate the negative with them. There was a study of men walking across a bridge, one scary shaky bridge and one not scary. At the other end was a woman taking a survey. When the men crossed the scary bridge, they were attracted to her on the other hand when they went across the boring bridge they weren’t.

4. Fun Things Together: Engaging in enjoyable activities with someone may do more than just bring smiles and laughter; it can deepen the bond between individuals, thanks to the intricate workings of the brain. A key player in this process is dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward.

When sharing fun experiences with another person, it contributes to a heightened sense of closeness. Positive association, shared emotions, mutual enjoyment and the building of trust all contribute to creating stronger social bonds.

In summary, the release of dopamine during enjoyable activities triggers a neurological response that enhances feelings of pleasure and reward. When these experiences are shared with someone else, they become a catalyst for strengthening the social bond, creating a profound sense of closeness and connection. So, the next time you’re enjoying a fun activity with your partner, remember that it’s not just about the laughter — it’s also about building lasing connections.

5. Pillow Talk: When the initial excitement fades, listening and talking becomes work. It demands intentional effort because the initial zing may be gone, and individuals might find themselves dwelling on the negative aspects. It’s during this period that relationships can either wither or flourish, depending on the willingness to engage in meaningful conversations.

In my counseling office, I often encounter couples grappling with the challenges of this phase. Blame becomes a common theme as individuals point fingers at their partners for the issues at hand. The focus tends to shift solely to the problems, making it difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The key to navigating this critical juncture is acknowledging that maintaining a connection requires active participation. Pillow talk, far from being a passive activity, becomes a conscious effort to communicate openly and to listen with empathy. It’s about creating a safe space for dialogue, even when faced with challenges, and working collaboratively to find solutions.

In the absence of the initial spark, investing in meaningful conversations becomes the catalyst for rekindling the flame. By shifting the focus from blame to understanding, couples can discover new perspectives, rebuild trust, and rediscover the positive elements that initially drew them together.

So, the next time you find yourself in the midst of relationship challenges, remember that pillow talk isn’t just a bedtime or morning ritual — it’s a powerful tool for rebuilding, reconnecting, and rekindling the love that may seem to have dimmed.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources related to this topic that you would recommend to our readers?

John Gray’s, “Men are from Mars Women are from Venus” not only strengthens connections but also adds excitement to relationships by embracing imperfections and understanding inherent gender differences. Gray encourages seeing these differences as opportunities for growth, fostering curiosity and adventure. Gray’s emphasis on humor as a tool to bridge gaps injects vitality, using laughter to diffuse tension and bring shared joy in rediscovering the sizzle that makes relationship enduring.

My new book, “Meeting People: It’s Not A Game — Your Path to Genuine Connections thru Bempathy®” which is coming out in January not only helps ‘meeting people’, the second part of the book focuses specifically on growing a genuine connections, increasing intimacy which is the key to ‘sizzle.’ It does this by applying the principle Bempathy® to help people hone their communications and social skills to improve interactions with others and their partners. Bempathy® is a process I created that combines banter with empathy to foster more genuine engagement. The strategies are fun, easy and simplified so people can whiz through it in a world of complication.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

In an era dominated by rapid technological advancements, individuals find themselves immersed in a constant stream of information, perpetually connected to an intangible world through their phones. In response to this evolving landscape, the demand for novel social strategies has become increasingly evident. The methodology incorporated into my practice is both direct and has proven successful for numerous individuals.

Enter Bempathy® an innovative approach that seamlessly integrates banter with empathy to cultivate and sustain harmonious, mutually beneficial relationships in both personal and professional spheres. Bempathy, a concept I’ve trademarked and copyrighted, represents a distinctive process that intertwines engaging banter with genuine empathy, resulting in a transformative approach to interpersonal genuine connections. It is an innovative approach to communication and social skills.

Over three decades, Bempathy® counseling, utilized by over 5,000 clients in pain clinics, behavioral hospitals, and private practice, yielded notable enhancements in relationships and emotional well-being. Results showcased improvements in goal achievement, with clients reporting benefits such as understanding priorities, finding suitable partners, setting boundaries, avoiding mistakes, and managing emotions. Clients found the process enjoyable, fostering better self-understanding, supportive coaching, care, clarity, and heightened relationship awareness. Bempathy® encouraged sustainable, healthy partnerships, positive affirmations, and gentle, empathetic counseling nudging clients towards accountability. (Qualitative research findings.)

The concept of Bempathy is elegantly presented in two books, one of them features delightful characters representing different personality types. These characters guide readers on a journey, simplifying complex analytical communication techniques for all ages to relate to and learn from. Bempathy is a mature yet accessible concept, elegantly presenting a complex idea in a simple way, making it an invaluable tool for those seeking to improve their social and communication skills along with their relationships.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)

Meeting Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show is a dream of mine and I have him on my vision board. It has always been my dream to be on the tonight show and when Jimmy Fallon became its host that ignited it even more. I have watched Jimmy Fallon since SNL and enjoy his sense of humor. He is a fabulous and talented comedian, talk show host and writer who has a talent for funny impersonations and musical imitations. My favorite is him with Tom Cruise singing.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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