Relationship Stages

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.

Is there a corpse in your living room?

Realtors and carpenters alike say that when a couple moves to a new house, they’ll see things that could use some fixing up. The carpenters and realtors also say the couple has about six months to take action on the repairs. After that the repairs fade into oblivion even though they continue to get worse over time. One realtor said to me, “There could be a corpse in the living room, but if they don’t get rid of it in six months they will just keep stepping over it.” Humans have a natural ability to adjust to some pretty bad situations. What's the lesson for the first six months of marriage, or for the first few months after a big change in your relationship?… Read more... “Is there a corpse in your living room?”

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. Then later in November, therapist and clinical assistant in our training program, Michelle, whom many of you have been in touch with before, weds the love of her life, Dan.… Read more... “3 Weddings and 4 Questions”

Practical Perspective for Fighting Couples

Oprah 225Recently we were fortunate to be published in The Oprah Magazine. It’s a publication that always puts things in a practical perspective. We were asked to offer a few insights into the frustrating and perplexing arena of fighting couples. You’ll find us in the November issue of The Oprah Magazine, on page 121.… Read more... “Practical Perspective for Fighting Couples”

5 Principles for Sustaining Intimacy in Your Marriage

  The following list highlights some of the principles that we believe are most helpful in creating and sustaining intimacy. Some of these principles are counterintuitive. 1. The foundation for ongoing sustained intimacy comes from partners being able to explore, appreciate and presevere in managing differences rather than similarities. Almost everything is predicated on this first principle. After an initial bond is formed, the intimacy potential in a relationship will always remain low if couples avoid exploring their differences and contradictions. Without this exploration, differences and contradictions become walls and barriers instead of bridges.… Read more... “5 Principles for Sustaining Intimacy in Your Marriage”

Happily Ever After

A marriage is the most rewarding – and the most challenging – relationship of your life. Don't let this alarm you, but no matter how old you are, how smart you are, or how hip you are, your relationship to your spouse will parallel your relationship to your parents during your childhood. Your marriage will mirror many of the stages you went through beginning with infancy, when you believed that you and your mom were in fact the same person; to the tantrums, withdrawal and defiance you used as a toddler to separate yourself from her. Finally, you discovered your own identity was separate and found that you were able to love your mom and be yourself at the same time.… Read more... “Happily Ever After”