Couples’ Blog

Welcome to our Couples’ Blog. Here we post occasional articles and practical exercises for couples who wish to improve their marriage or relationship. Look through the title and beginnings of articles below, and click any title to read them. Or scan the list of categories to find topics that interest you. You can also use the search box to find articles containing specific words. It’s good to know you’re not alone.

How to Get the Most From Your Couples Therapy

Couples are often uncertain what to expect from the process of couples therapy. They are not sure of what to expect of the therapist or even if the therapist has any expectations of them. I have found most couples approach therapy with the notion that each person will describe their distress and somehow the therapist will assist them to create a happier, more functional, relationship. They expect to learn some new or better skills. However, most people hope their partner will do most of the learning in problem areas. After 30 years of clinical experience and specializing in working with thousands of couples, I have arrived at some guidelines that can make our work more effective.… Read more...

New Research: A big cause of marital distress is . . . Santa Claus.

for santa syndrome blog v2That’s right dear reader, Santa Claus causes marital distress. Please back away from the ledge and take a deep breath. You will need it for what follows. What is a common tradition for many children at Christmas time? They write to Santa for all the things they want. Or they sit on his lap in a shopping mall and tell him directly. Then they wait for the big day. “Whoopee – look what Santa brought me!” the kids say. “I just asked. And then there it was … a miracle. I didn’t have to do a darn thing except ask for it. Just by asking, I got a lot of what I wanted. I must be really special.” Fast forward to a distressed couple in a therapist’s office.… Read more...

This Single Communication Tip Will Save Your Marriage

Couple in serious discussionWant to save your marriage? You should know that under stress, couples do three things that are relationship killers. All three are self-protective reactions to pain or fear. But self-protection to one partner is poison to the other.… Read more...

3 Weddings and 4 Questions

wedding_cakeThere are only three weddings happening this year at The Couples Institute. And we are being facetious – we haven’t had a wedding of an associate or staffer happen in quite a while! First, our bookkeeper, Daniel, married his long time partner Hunt in May. They’d been together for 26 years so their ceremony was a celebratory re-commitment of their enduring partnership. This past weekend, our marketing guru, Shelley, tied the knot with a man she’s known since college; mutual friends brought them back together a few years ago. They’ve been inseparable since, wondering why it didn’t happen sooner.… Read more...

Could Two Questions Actually Change Your Relationship?

two questionsYou and your partner formed a relationship likely for many reasons. One of the strongest might have been the desire for a deeper and ongoing connection with another human… a connection that allows you to be spontaneous, real, supported, sexy, and adventurous. At the time, you hoped you had created a connection that would lead to a richer life.… Read more...

Wisdom for Couples from Wisdom 2.0

Each year I enjoy a special weekend attending the Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco with my daughter, Molly. And when there are points of interest for couples, I enjoy sharing those insights from the conference with you. The central question of this year’s conference was, “How can we live with wisdom, awareness and compassion in the digital age?”… Read more...

Play “Twenty Questions” with your partner

Do you remember the game “Twenty Questions?” You could ask twenty questions to identify what thing the other person was thinking about. Here’s a variation on the Twenty Questions game, for your next dinner date or when you have some spare time. Using the questions below, you can find out a little more about your partner and vice versa. These questions will help you go a little deeper than discussing work, kids, vacations, or sports. Interestingly these are the kinds of questions couples often ask each other in the early stage of a relationship. But as time hurtles forward, these great questions get neglected and then abandoned.… Read more...

Valentine’s Day Couples Game: Design Your Ideal Partner

heart on purple_225 Do you have a partner with a habit or flaw you’d like to eliminate, tweak or fix? Let’s turn it into a Valentine’s Day Couples Game where you can design your ideal partner.… Read more...

11 Ways to Give the Gift of Intimacy

purple present box isolated on white Intimacy will last longer than most of the items typically exchanged as gifts this season – certainly longer than the latest trends in fashion or a digital device that will be obsolete in six months. Here are 11 ways to give or increase intimacy over the holiday season:… Read more...

6 Ways to Holiday-Proof Your Relationship

nuts, oramge and xmas lightsThe hustle and the bustle of the holiday season are upon us. It’s not an easy time even for folks in perfectly happy relationships, much less anyone who feels tension or is struggling with a significant other. Here are 6 ways to reduce holiday stress.… Read more...