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Between Men and Women Couples Relationship Retreat
A new view of what's possible in your relationship.
A new view of what's possible in your relationship.

Between Men and Women Couples Relationship Retreat's posts

My name is Donna Tosky and I am the founder of the SPARK Relationship Success System. I’ve been sharing this SPARK Model with men and women for close to 15 years now.

Not only do I show couples how to minimize struggle and resentment but I show them how to maximize fun, intimacy and connection.

Click the link to discover the secret to having a FUN and FULFILLING relationship in a RELAXED and UNIQUE 2-day Alberta couples retreat:

Today I’m going to share with you something that is super important to me. Last Sunday was Mother’s Day and so of course, I was thinking about my mother.

Watch the video for more:

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My mother passed in 2009.

One thing about my mom that really came to mind was how she never said anything negative about other people. She never put anything negative in the space to leave a bad impression of anyone.

Quite simply, she never ran anyone down.

She never even dropped a “side ways’ comment, rolled her eyes..she just never ran anybody down in the slightest. Growing up, I really noticed this about my mom and I remember thinking “wow, what an amazing quality that is to have”.

This is one of the things I like to teach people in our programs. I want people to be mindful of what they put in other people’s space.

Something could happen and we can find ourselves saying, “Oh ya…my wife is so scatter brained”…or “my husband…he’s never on time” or “he seems kind of lazy to me” or whatever it is we say based on our reaction to what happened.

Here’s the problem with saying some of these things…as soon as you say something there is no taking that back. Now you have left the person you were talking with something about your partner and your partner is not even there to speak for themselves.

Even if you think it’s no big deal, you have dumped this little bit of negativity over there with another person.

Now it’s very likely that the next time they see your partner, what will be in the background are your judgments. They may even be thinking something like “oh…here’s the lazy person” and not even realize it.

With our comments, we can leave others with an unsavoury opinion or a judgment. This really does no one any good.

My mom was very inspirational to me.

You may know a bit about my story and how I was in a very rocky marriage. Neither of us knew back then any of what I teach couples now. I most certainly didn’t, and I can see how much of what I didn‘t know back then contributed to the breakdown of my marriage.

My big message is that there is that 20% of what you are doing that if you stopped doing it, would make all the difference. There is also that 20%, that if you put IN to the mix would make a big difference.

This is what I share with people.

Be careful what you are enrolling others in regarding your partner. You can’t take back what you say.

The way I look at it is that you want to protect that space between you and your partner…that space around your partner. That space is sacred.

My present spouse Jason is very much like that. He doesn’t say anything negative about anybody. He reminds me of my mom like that and I still find myself thinking, “ wow… what an amazing quality”.

As I was getting together with Jason about ten years ago, I made a promise to myself and it was my mom that inspired this.

My promise to myself was this: For no reason would I run Jason down. Not ever. For no reason, justified or not …I just wouldn’t run him down to other people.

I never have and I really love that. It had nothing to do with him really. It was more a promise I made to myself. I saw my mom be that way with everybody and I thought “I wonder…what kind of a difference would be made in my relationship if I just did that”.

There’s so many other elements that contribute to a successful relationship but this one is gold because then my friends or my family don’t have any pre-conceived negative ideas of who Jason is.

If you really want to leave your family and friends with something about your partner then you COULD just as easily enroll them in how great your partner is…how kind they are… compassionate… generous….or any other positive quality.

The point is, we have a choice of what we say to other people about the most important person in our lives.

The tip I want to leave you with today is to be mindful about what you say about your partner to other people. Be very mindful of what it is you are enrolling them in and if it’s a little bit unsavory…not so great…don’t do it. See what kind of a difference it can make in your relationship.

Go Be Great!

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Our Alberta couples retreat makes communication easier and more effective in many areas, including money. This understanding can help you find a common ground in important financial conversations.

Click here to discover how to take your communication to a new level in a RELAXED, FUN and UNIQUE 2-day Alberta couples retreat:

When broaching the topic of money and marriage with your partner keep in mind that men are all about winning. When they see a goal, they want to go for it, and therefore, tend to be more aggressive around money. They seek the straightest line between where they are and where they want to be.

Women, on the other hand, often have their radar on the lookout for what’s not safe. From an evolutionary biology perspective, women bear the kids. They’re also not as physically strong as men. As a result, they’ve developed other skills for managing danger, and one of those is to be prepared for it. They see the big picture and scan the horizon for potential threats.

It’s not difficult to see how these differences – i.e., men wanting to aggressively pursue a goal, and women wanting to ensure everything is safe – can cause conflict around money. Take, for example, a couple who carries a sizable debt load. He may be less concerned about it because he knows he can go out and work more to make the money to pay it off. His preference is resolution through production. She might see this as risky and possibly unrealistic. She may prefer to focus on reducing expenses to free up the money for the debt. She may also be more open than him to seeking outside assistance (debt counselling, for instance) to get support in managing the debt.

To Your Greatness!

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In our Alberta couples retreat we say, "You won't change...Your communication will." Making effective requests is an important communication skill, especially for women.

You can take your communication to the next level in our RELAXED, UNIQUE and FUN 2-day Alberta couples retreat:

We are always rolling out an energic "red carpet" for others to land on when we interact with them. The carpet represents the tone, or energy, we are offering to people. Awareness of your tone is a first step in making any effective request.

The energy we are offering is often apparent well before we have even opened our mouths to make a request. If we have doubt and anger on the end of our red carpet, any request we make is contaminated. The doubt and anger act as interference to effective communication in marriage. This automatically makes the request unattractive. No matter what you’re asking for, if an unsavoury tone comes with the request, it’s very unlikely that the request will be honoured.

Flip your tone to either a neutral or positive one, and your partner will be more open to you and to fulfilling what you asked for.

To Your Greatness!

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"Between Men and Women" Rocky Mountain Alberta Couples Retreat is where you learn practical communication techniques to sustain a healthy and happy marriage. A big part of communication is understanding your partner's perspective. For men, approval and appreciation are everything.

To discover the secret to having a FUN and FULFILLING relationship, learn more about our RELAXED and UNIQUE 2-day Alberta couples retreat by clicking here:

Approval and appreciation are to your guy what gas is to your car. With it, he will go (and can take you) anywhere. Without it, no one's getting very far.

For some women, appreciating what a man does for her can occur like "buttering up his ego". If his ego gets a boost from you, that's awesome, because it's his ego that keeps him producing. He wins because he feels good. You win because his feeling good has him want to do more for you (Remember? Guys move toward what feels good, and away from what feels bad). And it doesn't cost either of you anything!

Here's 2 things to keep in mind:

1) No matter what he does or doesn't do for you, or no matter how he does it, there is ALWAYS something he did that you can appreciate, even if it's just the effort he made. Find it, and let him know.

2) Here's a simple 3-step formula for HOW to let him know:

1st - Give him Approval / Appreciation.
2nd - Tell him for what.
3rd - Tell him why...what did you like about what he did?

For example, "Thanks John for the beautiful flowers. They just light up the room, and I love that!" Use whatever words you're comfortable with. Just try to include each step. Between Men and Women, you're perfect just as you are. In our programs we won't ask you to change. You're communication, however, will change forever.

To Your Greatness!

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Desire (what a woman wants in life) and communication (how she asks for it) go hand-in-hand in the "Between Men and Women" Rocky Mountain Alberta Couples Retreat.

To discover the secret to having a FUN and FULFILLING relationship, learn more about our RELAXED and UNIQUE 2-day Alberta couples retreat by clicking here:

In yesterday's post we reminded you that you, as a woman, are Desire, and that the more you express it, the better you and everyone around you feels.

We also asked you to make a big list...the bigger the better...of what you want to do this weekend to make it one of the BEST EVER.

Now let's dip our toe into the deep well of communication - how you ask for what's on the list.

A lot goes into making a powerful request that has you both feel good. For instance, your tone and your "agenda" (what you're really doing when you make a request) are just as important as the words you use.

What we want to share with you is a simple formula for making an effective request that leaves everyone feeling empowered and free. Think of the request like a piece of A.R.T.

A = Approval (Let him know how he wins with you.)
R = Request (Ask for what you want.)
T = Thanks (Thank him in advance for delivering what you asked for.)

It could look something like this (remember, put it in your own words. Just make sure the pieces are all there.):

(Approval) "I love it when we spend time together."

(Request) "I would like to make this weekend really special. I made a list of things I would love to do with you. Can you please put together a weekend that's fun and amazing?"

(Thanks) "And thank you. I'm looking forward to it already. Oh, and whatever you set up from the list is going to be perfect."

This last sentence is an important one to add. It let's him know there is a win on the horizon. This will overcome a lot of his doubt and will motivate him to set up a fun weekend.

Remember, however, if you say it's going to be perfect, you have to mean it. If you say it will be perfect, and then you complain about what he produces, the loss will discourage him from doing it again. Just sayin'...

Next time, we'll dive into "approval". Without this, your guy is going to back-up and shut down, so understanding it is all-important. Until then...


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In the "Between Men and Women" Rocky Mountain Alberta Couples Retreat a woman's "Desire" is powerful and celebrated...and it may not be what you think it is. Our retreat reveals why. Below is a summary...

To discover the secret to having a FUN and FULFILLING relationship, learn more about our RELAXED and UNIQUE 2-day Alberta couples retreat by clicking here:

For women, Desire is simply what you want. But it's also much more than that. In our retreat we say, "Desire isn't just something you's who you are!" It's part of a woman's very being. Rather than being looked down on or stifled, Desire (i.e., simply what you want and dream of in life) should be Celebrated, Embraced and Flaunted! It's what gives you vibrancy and makes you feel alive. Feeling good and confident in your Desire serves the big "Self". Everyone around you benefits as well.

In the "Between Men and Women" Retreat, one goal is to have women feel GREAT about asking for and getting what they want. Here's an exercise...What we want you to do, is make a list of everything you would like to do to make this an amazing weekend. Put everything down, whether you think it's realistic or not (ESPECIALLY if you think it's not realistic). No matter how big or how small, or how cheap or how expensive, write it down. Don't edit yourself. Make a long list. The longer the better.

Before wrapping up, keep this in mind. Sometimes when a woman asks her guy for something or says she wants something, he rolls his eyes, ignores it, or just says "No." First, know that men want to make you happy, and they want to be the source of that happiness. They don't shut down requests because they're mean or jerks. More often than not it's because they don't know if they can do it; or they have the experience that what they do is never good enough, so why try; or maybe it's overwhelm...just too much going on right now, so he doesn't want to take on anything else.

There are ways to ask for something, or express what you want, that will reduce his resistance and have him feel good about the request. Everyone wins. How to do this, AND what to do with your list for this weekend, will be shared in tomorrow's post. Keep an eye out for it. To Your Greatness!

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Our Alberta couples retreat transforms the seemingly intractable differences between men and women into sublimely perfect assets for your life and your marriage.

I can picture God snickering when (S)he sees us insisting that we're the same, while knowing the ultimate perfection in the differences if only we would open ourselves up to them.

Understanding those differences, how they play out everyday in your life, and how you can work with them in ways where you both win, is what the "Between Men and Women" Alberta Couples Retreat is all about.

Click the link to discover the secret to having a FUN and FULFILLING relationship in a RELAXED and UNIQUE 2-day Alberta couples retreat:


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Are you looking for a couples retreat in Alberta, and you want peace of mind knowing you chose the one that's right for you? Click the link below to discover how the "Between Men and Women" Couples Retreat can transform your communication by revealing what's going on underneath the words you use everyday. To Your Greatness!

Click here to view:

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Guys, if you're wondering how to "fix my marriage", you know it can be confusing. For example, have you ever wondered how the perfect solution to a problem your wife was having, actually made things worse? Keep reading to learn more...

Click the link to discover the secret to having a FUN and FULFILLING relationship in a RELAXED and UNIQUE 2-day
Alberta couples retreat:

On New Years Eve Donna and I went to see La La Land, the Golden Globe-nominated movie starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. One scene from the movie can help explain what's going on.

La La Land is set in Los Angeles. Ryan Gosling's character, Sebastian, is a struggling jazz pianist, whose dream is to open a jazz club that celebrates traditional jazz music. Emma Stone's character, Mia, is an actress trying to make it in LA.

Although money is tight, Mia and Sebastian's romance seems otherwise idyllic. One morning, Sebastian is in the bedroom and overhears Mia talking to her Dad on the phone. Mia is defending Sebastian against her Father's concern that their dreams are not realistic.

As Sebastian listens to the conversation, he looks up towards the ceiling of the bedroom and see's dark water stains extending out from the corner. This, along with his new awareness that he doesn't measure up to Mia's Dad's definition of what it is to be a "man", has Sebastian become immediately clear that he's not doing enough to look after Mia.

Prior to that, Sebastian had received an offer to join a contemporary jazz group. He declined because he loves traditional jazz, and he didn't want to compromise his values. Thinking that he needs to make changes to look after Mia, he accepts the position. The group is successful, so what may have been a temporary gig is now a long-term commitment to touring and recording. The jazz club has to be put on the back-burner. This comes out over dinner with Mia, and she gets upset. She didn't want him to give up his dream in exchange for financial security.

What happened? How did their wires get crossed?

In La La Land, Sebastian did the perfect guy thing. He saw a problem, he had a solution, and he did what he thought would fix the problem for Mia. His mistake was in not connecting his solution to Mia's real problem - to what she really wanted. While the financial challenges existed, Mia was more concerned about maintaining and living their dream. She could put up with the money shortage as long as the dream was intact. Sebastian didn't consider this. He assumed he knew what Mia wanted and acted accordingly.

Men, here's the gold...

It's really important to connect your production to your partner's desire. When you do something that solves what you perceive as a problem, it's useful to make sure you know the real problem. Avoid assumptions, even if the solution makes perfect sense to you. It's okay to ask her to make sure you are on the right track.

To Your Greatness!


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While understanding the differences between men and women may not save your life, it just might save your marriage. Keep reading below to find out what I mean...

Click the link to discover the secret to having a FUN and FULFILLING relationship in a RELAXED and UNIQUE 2-day Alberta couples retreat:

Over the past several years, Jason's Mom and Dad both had heart attacks. His Dad had pain and discomfort that lasted a day or two. He thought it might be indigestion until a co-worker recommended he go to the hospital, where he was told he was having a heart attack.

Perhaps because of that experience, Jason's Mom called the ambulance right away when she felt pain in her chest a few years ago. She was also having a heart attack. Had they not been able to distinguish between indigestion and a heart attack they might not be with us today (they're both doing really well now, by the way!)

In the same way that understanding the difference between indigestion and a heart attack saved their lives, understanding the differences between men and women has helped them enjoy a happy marriage for almost 40 years.

There is some debate about whether or not these gender differences are real. Comedians and advertisers know men and women are different, and they have made money with this knowledge for decades.

Science is making this recognition too. We now know that men and women produce different hormones when exposed to similar stimuli. We also know there are differences in the structure of each gender's brain. When these differences are found in the organ that processes how we see and interact with the world, it's safe to say that these differences will also impact how we are in relationship and how we view our partner.

That being the case, you have to understand the range of differences between men and women if your goal is to have a happy marriage that is characterized by connection, freedom, fun, and trust.

Providing you this understanding is the whole purpose of the "Between Men and Women" Couples Relationship Retreat. Participants are never blamed, made-wrong, or forced to talk, and we don't need to dig into your past to get breakthrough results. Knowing the differences between you and your partner creates a new context for your relationship. That new context can change your results.

The next Between Men and Women Retreat is happening soon. For more information, please visit our website:

Enjoy your day. To Your Greatness!
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