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. First, I do have some expectations of you. I am not neutral. I have evolved principles and concepts that I believe give us the greatest chance for success.

Pete’s Interview – Stages of Relationships – Triggers

Thanks for your interest in my recent interview on NPR. I hope you get some valuable insights for your relationship regarding: The stages of a relationship or marriage Lies we tell our partners Triggers we have that cause challenges in our relationships You won't want to miss my impromptu session with a stranger where I walked a listener through a long time trigger that he had interacting with his partner. In less than ten minutes, he was able to begin feeling differently and break a pattern he has had for years (Listener Question 2 at about 36 minutes in). Your browser does not support the audio element. Podcast Highlights: 01:05 – Honeymoon Stage and Innocent Lies in the Beginning 05:40 – Avoiding the Truth 10:00 – Start to Work as a TEAM 10:45 – Partners on a Pedestal at the Beginning 11:30 – Tell Me No Lies 11:45 – Second Stage – Power Struggles 15:50 – Marriage is the only Non-Hierarchical Relationship there is.… Read more... “Pete’s Interview – Stages of Relationships – Triggers”

Kenya – A Journey In Negotiation

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Chore Wars

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Super Negotiating for Couples

Marriage is a challenge. Growing your business is a challenge. What happens when you try to combine the two? I know first-hand how daunting it is to blend these two endeavors. You see, I'm in business with my wife. For over twenty years my wife and I, both psychologists, have directed The Couples Institute. As psychologists specializing in marriage counseling, we should have all the skills necessary to blend business and marriage, right? In fact, the opportunities for us to disagree are practically limitless. Fortunately, the opportunities for us to grow together are even greater. For our own personal and marital survival we have had to develop some really effective methods to make decisions, solve problems, and negotiate better solutions.… Read more... “Super Negotiating for Couples”

The Surprising First Steps of Negotiation

In our 40 collective years in practice, we've discovered that most partners do not negotiate very well. Maybe our sample is a little skewed, since it is comprised of couples in therapy. However, the popularity of books on this subject confirms that most people are deficient in negotiation skills. So this month we ask you to focus on improving your own skills as an effective negotiator.Why do partners struggle so much with negotiation? It's hard work! It's often difficult to clearly define your own desires, plus it requires careful dialogue to elicit your partner's desires. If the topic is complex, you will have to ask yourself and your partner lots of questions.… Read more... “The Surprising First Steps of Negotiation”

Does Summer Vacation Planning Raise Problems for You?

  Summer vacations can involve family visits, which often present a challenge for many couples. This time of year when some couples do their summer vacation planning, I thought it might be timely to share with you a column I wrote for the “San Jose Mercury News.” Q:  My husband and I are at odds over visiting his family in Florida. His mother has remarried (his father died years ago) and her husband is impossible to be around. He is constantly criticizing me and the kids, and when we visit I have a terrible time. My husband says I am overly sensitive and should just “let it go,” which is how he handles his family.… Read more... “Does Summer Vacation Planning Raise Problems for You?”

Rapid Fire Tips for Holiday Division of Labor

How many decisions will you make with your honey over the holidays? Whether you guess fifty or five hundred, I guarantee that you will make even more. The holidays are full of choices: gifts, guests, travels, money, menus, and more. And many of these decisions are made begrudgingly, especially as the calendar fills up and every day becomes a challenge of “who needs to do what by when.” Some of these decisions and negotiations will generate more heat than a roaring forest fire. So here's a method to turn down the heat blasts and make your holidays a little more cozy. It's a new way to think about “who needs to do what by when.” This process helps you avoid the two most common negotiation mistakes.… Read more... “Rapid Fire Tips for Holiday Division of Labor”