Peter Pearson

The cookie jar is an interesting concept.

It’s so much more than a storage container!

It’s where kids head for an immediate snack when feeling down or to celebrate when feeling great.

Know what? We never outgrow the lure of the cookie jar. Only now there are different kinds of cookies in the jar.

Instead of chocolate chip cookies, there are different kinds of treats, a.k.a. immediate gratifications of primal desires.

We head for these cookies when we feel tired, mad, sad, glad or scared.

These “cookies” are labeled…

  • Procrastination
  • Sloth
  • Gluttony
  • Booze
  • Drugs
  • Greed
  • Anger
  • Fighting back
  • Withdrawing
  • Retreating into our self-protective bubble
  • Whining
  • Blaming
  • Grumpiness
  • Irritability

These “cookies” can become as addictive as the originals are.

We reach for relief from the cookie jar, and that can trigger our partner to reach for their cookie jar.

There is a way out of this cycle, which (to a large degree) is responsible for the ugly 50% divorce rate.

Here is the concept: it takes two strong individuals to make a strong marriage.

Two individuals who can (for the most part) resist the lure of the cookie jar.

Anyone who has ever struggled with weight management knows that resisting the cookie jar makes you stronger. Every time you make a better choice, your resolve grows. How does that relate to the cookie jar in marriage?

You need to be strong to be empathic. To listen well. To be transparent. To be curious instead of furious.

You need to be strong to take off the masks that hide who you really are. A part of you is afraid if you reveal who you really are you will not be loved or wanted or desired.

So, two people don masks, reach for the cookie jar and hope they will still be accepted, understood, and loved.

What do you think are the odds that two masked partners can create a lively, thriving, mutually supportive marriage?

Remember that ugly statistic? 50%.

You think the other half is living in high clover?

Neither do I.

So the percent of couples who are hiding from themselves and each other while enjoying a rich relationship are slim to none.

The antidote? Become stronger as an individual.

Become strong enough to be tender. To connect emotionally and physically. To create a mutual vision that excites your imagination. To be glad to see each other at the end of the day.

Nobody is ever strong enough to totally resist the cookie jar. Because sometimes those cookies just taste so good.

But every time you resist the jar, you get a little bit stronger.

Praise progress! You deserve it. You earned it.


Peter Pearson, Ph.D., Relationship & Teamwork Expert for Entrepreneur Couples

Pete has been training and coaching couples to become a strong team since 1984 when he co-founded The Couples Institute with his psychologist wife, Ellyn Bader.

Their popular book, “Tell Me No Lies,” is about being honest with compassion and growing stronger as a couple.

Pete has been featured on over 50 radio and television programs including “The Today Show,” "Good Morning America,” and "CBS Early Morning News,” and quoted in major publications including “The New York Times,” “Oprah Magazine,” “Redbook,” “Cosmopolitan,” and “Business Insider.”

A Glossary of Terms that are sometimes Confusing

Couples Therapy is a counseling procedure that seeks to improve the adjustment of two people who have created an interdependent relationship. There are no standard procedures to help two people improve their adjustments to each other. Generally, a more experienced therapist will offer more perspectives and tools to a couple. Length of treatment will depend on severity of problems, motivation and skills of the therapist. A couple can be dating, living together, married or separating and may be gay, lesbian or heterosexual.

Marriage Therapy is a term often used interchangeably with marriage counseling. The term marriage implies two people have created a union sanctioned by a government or religious institution. The methods used in marriage counseling, marriage therapy and couples therapy are interchangeable and depend more on the specific challenges of each unique couple.

Psychotherapy is one or more processes to help improve psychological and emotional functioning. Examples are psychoanalysis, cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, Gestalt therapy, Transactional Analysis, Rational-Emotive therapy, or group therapy. Many forms of psychotherapy are blends of different approaches. For example, newer forms of psychotherapy called energy psychology draw upon recent advances in brain and neuroscience. These approaches often build on cognitive behavioral methods.

Clinical Psychologist. After graduating from college, it usually takes about five years of graduate school to get a Ph.D. in Psycholgy. It then requires an additional two years of supervision and passing a written (and often) an oral exam. There are a few states that allow psychologists to prescribe medications (with additional training) but that is uncommon.

Psychiatrist. After graduation from medical school, there is a generally a 4-year psychiatric residency. After the completion of this training, psychiatrists must pass an exam issued by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology to obtain certification and legally practice in the field. Psychiatrists can prescribe medications.

Clinical Social Worker. This profession usually requires two years of study after obtaining an undergraduate degree. While specific licensure requirements vary by state, most require clinical social workers to obtain 3,000 hours or 2 years of supervised clinical experience, after obtaining a Masters degree. Social workers can also specialize in diverse fields such as human services management, social welfare analysis, community organizing, social and community development, and social and political research.

Marriage and Family Therapist. Obtaining this license requires a Masters degree which takes approximately two years of post graduate study. The license also requires 3000 hours of supervised work and passing written exams.

The Couples Institute. We have assembled a group of top notch therapists at The Couples Institute. Whatever marriage help or marriage advice you are looking for, we are here to serve you. While most other therapists see only a few couples a week, we specialize in marriage and couples relationships, working to develop and bring you the most current and effective approaches to couples therapy. For more information about couples therapy or marriage counseling, see our couples therapy section.

Tags: , , , , Forward to a Friend
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

© Copyright 2021 The Couples Institute. All Rights Reserved | Managed by Strategic Websites