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Relationships Are a Team Sport,

Set Yours Up to Win

About The Book

Whether you’re married, deepening your commitment to your partner, or single and dating someone new, if you want to ditch the drama in your relationship and become fabulously fulfilled, The Couple’s Playbook is essential reading. Brain-based relationship and life coach Lisa Marini has incorporated incredible insights from the most advanced research on the human brain into a powerful technique for communicating and negotiating strategies that bring couples into alignment over everything from decisions about everyday routines to tackling high-pressure situations. Like the training programs and practice sessions used by professional athletes to enhance skills and ensure effective teamwork, she’ll prepare you for success.

“Using team sports as a metaphor, relationship coach Lisa Marini scores a homerun as she explains how, in love relationships, partners are not opponents. Lisa writes a structured yet light-hearted action-packed playbook for reducing hurtful perceptions and conflicts that commonly sideswipe couples. Step by step, she explains how partners can give and get the emotional trophies they need to feel fulfilled and respected. She advocates for team mottos, principles of good sportsmanship, and regular team huddles so the everyday irritating, irksome gripes don’t pile up. Lisa also shares the fundamentals of brain science so couples can start recognizing the negative patterns of complaints and breakdowns in their love lives, controlling their biologically built-in threat responses, calming down quicker, and enjoying more wins than fouls.” 

- STAN TATKIN, PsyD, MFT, developer of the Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy® and author of Wired for Love and In Each Other's Care

What’s inside






Team Spirit and the Championship Mindset: Decide What You Stand for as a Couple



The Team Huddle:
Create a Structure for Conversation



Emotional Trophies:
Meet Your Partner’s Core Needs



Design Your Couple’s Playbook:
Discuss the Sixteen Big Life Plays







Skill of Regulating Your Brain State:
Shift from Reactive to Receptive



Skill of Attentive Listening:
Use Positive Filters to Improve Communication



Skill of Managing Your Reactions:
Learn the FACTS Method



Skill of Integrity:
Build Trust, Honesty, and Reliability



Skill of Conflict Resolution:
Design Your Rules of Engagement



The first key strategy for creating clear communication doesn’t start with your mouth or your ears. It starts from the place between your ears—that sweet little squishy organ to which many of us don’t pay a heck of a lot of attention. It then moves to your nervous system, and later you actually get involved with your words and reactions.

How have we missed applying the fundamentals of brain science to our love lives for so long? I don’t know about you, but the strategies I attempted in previous relationships focused on how to be a better listener, a better communicator, and other tangible learned tools. But the missing tool was understanding my stress response.

I will get to those listening and speaking tools soon, as they are also very important, but we need to first start with learning how to regulate our three-pound mental powerhouses, otherwise we are missing the true origins of our feelings and reactions.

In this chapter, we’re going to talk about and explore two different brain states. Why? Well, honestly, this defines how you and your partner are communicating—whether that be well or poorly. What I am about to explain here is the prequel to all the rest of the personal development work and relationship advice I will give you in the balance of this book. If you don’t know how your brain works—or how to regulate your brain—you won’t ever be able to use it to your advantage in creating the relationship of your dreams, and your happily ever after.

Think about it. There are times in your relationship where you are really patient and calm. Even if there is a disagreement, you are able to stay grounded and think through solutions clearly without much reaction. On the other hand, there are times where the wind blows wrong and you scream at it because it shouldn’t have done that. Crazy times. Right?

But you aren’t crazy. You are human, and this reactivity happens to all of us. We usually chalk it up to just being irritated or stressed out. I want to explain exactly why you can switch from being a monk to a menace in 2.3 seconds flat.

Understanding these two brain states is important because your brain state when you’re making decisions and interacting with your partner sets the stage for everything that happens in your relationship. It will help you understand that when there is conflict or turbulence, your easiest play may be addressing your partner’s brain state. Helping your partner (and yourself) shift out of a highly triggered and stressed brain state into a calm one and regulate the nervous system can lessen knee-jerk reactions and aggression.


“Lisa Marini’s The Couples Playbook is an invaluable tool for any couple looking to build a joy-filled, drama-free relationship for a lifetime! Marini has scripted a well thought out, detailed game plan any couple can follow to ensure they can get through anything together. Successful teams in sports are those who are the most prepared for both adversity and to win. This book gives couples this same incredible advantage. This is a resource that every relationship should be blessed with!”


—HOWARD FALCO, spiritual teacher, mental strength coach, author of I AM: The Power of Discovering Who You Really Are

“Lisa Marini has written a couple’s relationship book like no other. As a brain-based coach, she knows how the human brain is wired—including why it can often sabotage us without our realizing what is happening. In The Couple's Playbook, she offers an easy-to-understand guide to why we feel the way we do, and even more important, why we react the way we do. She helps couples zero in on where they have the most trouble in communicating and supporting each other, and then she helps them design a successful game plan so they can come out on top every time. Marini delivers all this insight with a lot of great humor and charm. Reading this book is like having a deep and delightful life-changing conversation with your new best friend.”

—KATY KOONTZ, Editor in Chief, Unity Magazine

“The Couple's Playbook is a win for me! Many relationship books position the topic in terms of feelings and needs. Lisa’s use of the game metaphor brilliantly encompasses all of that, plus makes this actionable and very accessible to those not yet ready to talk ‘feelings’ but ready to work on their relationships. This is an equal-opportunity manual for all parties in any relationship. It seems she’s created a game in which everybody wins.”

—LISA WIMBERGER, Founder, Neurosculpting ⓒ Institute

“To be human is to play games. In this book, Lisa shows us how to play them consciously and in a way that creates the thrill of victory instead of the agony of defeat. I can’t wait to use all these tools!”

—MANDY CAVANAUGH, entrepreneur, author of F* the Glass Ceiling: Start at the Top and Stay There as a Feminine Entrepreneur

“Yay! What a breath of fresh air in the realm of couples coaching. I was about to say ‘of couples work,’ because that is how books like this have felt in the past, like work. However, in The Couple’s Playbook, Lisa has created a clear and actionable path that leads a willing partnership towards deeper connection, understanding, and ultimately, intimacy.”

—PATRICK HARRINGTON, transformational leadership coach, cofounder, the Harrington Method

“If you have picked up this book, an angel is speaking to you. I have had the pleasure of knowing Lisa as a friend, business associate, and my own personal relationship coach, and it has truly saved my life in ways I never even knew I needed. To find a human being who can so quickly identify how we need to pour love into ourselves in order to be able to be in a committed loving relationship is the miracle within the work done.”

—BROOKE HENGST, Realtor, author of Build Your Own Empire: My Path to Building Wealth Through Real Estate

“Lisa has such a gift for supporting individuals, couples, and families in making sense of life and love. Her approach to simplifying the complex notion of neuroscience into a playbook is brilliant. In addition to the helpful insights and understanding about how our brains influence our relationships, the Playbook provides relatable, actionable, and playful guidance for navigating life with ourselves and others. A masterful approach to reminding us about the gift of our brains and how to use them to foster more love, light and play in the world.”


“Lisa has such a gift for supporting individuals, couples, and fami“The Couple’s Playbook is an absolute must-have for couples! Get ready to up-level your relationship in ways you didn’t even know were possible! Lisa takes the act of relating, which can be challenging and complex, and simplifies it so you can be successful and thrive in your relationship. She provides tangible, practical, down-to-earth exercises for creating a fulfilling, lasting partnership that are easy to understand and implement. Best of all, you’ll feel like Lisa is on your team as she walks you step by step through this work.”


“Lisa changed my perspective on what a great relationship is and gave me and my partner the resources to set each other up to win. What a concept! The guidance I’d been searching for is right here in her funny, entertaining, easy-to-read new book. She explains why our brains take us on journeys we did not ask to go on and provides invaluable tools to stay the course. Opening lines of communication with my partner has given me the safe space to articulate my needs and the trust that we can navigate anything together.”


"I have spent a huge part of my life focused on my career, my development, and my child's development. I have often neglected the relationship that has allowed me to be successful in all these areas: my marriage. Lisa’s launch of her classes and her new book have reminded me that when my husband and I intentionally foster our wonderful relationship we both have a blast and success in life.”


“Lisa’s brain-focused teachings and approaches are simple and sweet, and can be applied to your life instantly. They take away the blame game within a relationship and focus on building love and understanding as a team. She offers wonderful tips or plays as she calls them that are good both for new relationships and to keep your marriage/partnership a playful work in progress. I have been happily married for nineteen years, and this playbook gave me new perspective. Marriage/partnership should be a forever team sport. Grab this book! Read it, apply all that aligns, you and your partner will elevate your love and your understanding of each other.”


“Whether you are in a new relationship, struggling in your current relationship, or happily married, this book will provide amazing insights and tools to enhance your life. Lisa has a way of delivering educational, life-changing material in a fun, entertaining, and relatable way. She offers step-by-step exercises that uncover our unsupportive thought patterns and beliefs that have a profound impact on how we relate to ourselves and others. Her brilliant use of sports analogies will engage even the most ‘self-help’ averse partner. She sprinkles in real-life stories from her own relationship and those of her clients that had me laughing while simultaneously awestruck that many of us share the same struggles and patterns. The book is a wonderful, engaging, toolbox for any relationship!”


“Numerous topics in this book have enhanced my relationship. The ones that I have found the most helpful suggest really clear strategies, such as how to promote fairness. I’ve had a habit of simply starting a conversation with my partner without paying much attention to where it was going. Our conversations have been more loving, enjoyable, caring, and productive.”


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About the author

LISA MARINI is a relationship coach in Denver, Colorado, who focuses on human behavior and habits using the perspective of neuroscience. She left a seventeen-yearlong career as a lead supervisor for a general contractor, building large, multifamily dwellings to found her private practice in 2017. Lisa graduated from Colorado State University in 2000 and has since gained certifications in many modalities, including Brain Health Coaching, Hypnotherapy, Brainspotting, Neurosculpting®, Neurolinguistic Programming, HeartMath+, and Emotional Freedom Technique.

Lisa supports her clients in making lasting life changes, finding new perspectives, shifting mindsets, and building the relationships of their dreams.

Lisa Marini



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