Beware the Advice of “Marital First Responders”

Bad advice will blind you, good advice will instruct you, excellent advice will enlighten you, and transcendent advice will elevate you.        ~ Matshona Dhliwayo

When you experience problems in your relationship, you might find yourself opening up to others about those problems. While this is probably more true of women, when things get really bad, even guys do it too (admit it!). You might go to friends, family members, co-workers, clergy, hair stylists, bartenders, or others to gripe, vent, seek reassurance, get perspective, or problem-solve (guys mostly on this one). These natural confidantes in your life then serve as “marital first responders.” They’re in the position of helping you do first aid on your relationship. Continue reading

How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Relationship Using Self-Justification

I yam what I yam. ~ Popeye the Sailor Man

Your relationship started out great. You were crazy in love, wanting to spend as much time together as possible. Your partner was perfect, couldn’t do anything wrong, made you feel terrific! And now? They drive you crazy! At some point, the reality of your partner set in. You noticed some things that didn’t sit well with you and you mentioned them to your partner. All you got back were justifications for why they were right and (even worse) why you were wrong. Now, they don’t listen anymore. They don’t care what you think. How did you get here? What happened? Can we please go back to the way we were (you say)? Let’s look at what happened and whether your relationship can return to it’s former glory. Continue reading

The Tragedy of the Walkaway Wife and the Too-Late-Woke Husband

Why didn’t you tell me you were this unhappy?” asks the Too-Late-Woke Husband to the back of his wife’s head as she walks out the door rolling her eyes.

This article is aimed at all you clueless husbands. Also, severely discontented wives might find it interesting to conspicuously leave a copy around the house before they finally give up on their relationship. The idea here is to wake you (the husband) up to the reality of your wife’s negative feelings about you and your marriage before it’s way too late. Many a husband doesn’t get “woke” (as the kids say these days) until they watch their long-suffering wife walk out the door with suitcases in her hands. They have now become a “woke” husband, realizing that their wife really means business. Continue reading

Coming to Terms with the Reality of a Difficult Relationship

I don’t want to believe it!” ~ Female client

Over time, I’ve worked with many people in difficult, if not toxic or abusive, relationships. These have included women married to confusing men on the Autistic Spectrum (formerly called Asperger’s Disorder), men married to angry women with Borderline Personality Disorder, and women married to verbally abusive men. With few exceptions, these people have trouble coming to terms with the reality of who they married. “I never realized.” “He wasn’t like that in the beginning.” “I felt sorry for her and felt I could really help her.” “I don’t believe it!” “I don’t want to believe it!” and the ever-popular “What do I do now?” In this article, we’ll explore some of these situations, why they occur, and what to do about them. Continue reading

Inside the Head of an Abusive Man

Abusiveness is not a product of a man’s emotional injuries or of deficits in his skills. In reality, abuse springs from a man’s early cultural training, his key male role models, and his peer influences. In other words, abuse is a problem of values, not of psychology.                ~ Lundy Bancroft

Contrary to popular belief, abusive men are typically not clinically mentally ill, deranged, or have so-called personality disorders (Narcissistic, Antisocial, etc.). Instead, they simply believe that their behaviors are perfectly OK and justified. In this article, we look at the beliefs the abusive man has, his mentality you might say, and offer you an opportunity to gain some perspective about someone you might know (husband, father, grandfather, son, son-in-law, brother, brother-in-law, boss, priest, minister, President of the United States, etc.). Continue reading

Ask Your Doctor If Couples Counseling is Right for You! – Part 2

Attempting to address abuse through couples therapy is like wrenching a nut the wrong way. It just gets harder to undo than it was before. ~ Lundy Bancroft

This is the second article exploring the appropriateness of couples counseling in various situations. See the first article here. In this article, we explore the situation where one of the partners treats the other partner very badly, disrespects the other, bullies or intimidates or otherwise tries to control them, and doesn’t consider the other partner’s opinion worth taking seriously. If you guessed that couples counseling can do little or nothing (and may actually be harmful) in these cases, you guessed right. Let’s look at this situation more closely, then explore some alternative options.

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Ask Your Doctor if Couples Counseling is Right for You! – Part 1

Take time for all things: great haste makes great waste.                                                  ~ Benjamin Franklin

Have you been feeling “not-exactly-happy” with your relationship lately? Do you and your relationship partner have “communication problems?” Do you or your partner have “one foot out the door?” Are you wondering whether getting a second opinion from a professional might be in order? This article explores some things to think about before making that step. The idea here is to set your expectations, open your eyes before going in, and give your efforts, should you decide to go for it, the best chance they can have.

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Making 1 + 1 Equal More Than Two in a Relationship

There are two questions that we have to ask ourselves. The first is “Where am I going?” and the second is “Who will go with me?” If you ever get these questions in the wrong order, you are in trouble.                            ~ Howard Thurman

For all you romantics out there, the equation 1 + 1 = 1 probably sounds familiar to you. You’ve come together (or want to) with a special person who “completes” you. You and they become “as one.” And certainly “love is blind” at that point. This can feel incredible for the first part of your relationship, and you find yourself not wanting to spend any time apart. Often, this leads to “taking it to another level,” possibly even marriage, or some other intended lifetime commitment. Then, after a while, something happens. You wake up one morning and begin to ask yourself, “Where did I go?” If this is happening to you, let’s find out where you went and, more importantly, how to get you back. Continue reading

The Secret to a Happy Marriage

I’ve been married a good long time, over 30 years at the time of this writing. And, so far, so good, I’m happy to report. Because of this, people have asked me, “What’s your secret?” In the past, I’ve fumbled to answer this question, feeling embarrassed not to have a quick response. But, now I think I’ve finally figured it out and I want to share this wonderful secret with you.

So, at long last, here it is, the secret to a happy marriage:

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