Show Love in Small, Essential Ways

I just returned from the Brief Therapy Conference in Anaheim. A lovely moment occurred after my clinical demonstration. A couple came up and introduced themselves to me, saying they had now been married for 60 years. They asked, “Would I like to know the secret?”

What couples therapist could turn that down? I replied, “Of course I would.”

And here is what she said: “Whenever I get out of bed at night, I pull the covers up over him – and he does the same for me. It also helps that we fall asleep holding hands.”

As I walked away, I thought how lovely and sweet this couple is and how important it is to show love in all those small, but essential ways. I've been talking about those covers to a lot of clients this week!

It is also the time of year to support our couples in the intricacies of relationships with their in-laws. Sadly, this relationship often brings out jealousy, loyalty conflicts and competitive dynamics in the dyad. Negotiation skills are so crucial to navigate this terrain. After many years of walking couples through the ‘his family' vs. ‘her family' fights for the holidays, I have come to a position that I hold and often share. The optimal role of a spouse is to help his/her partner have the quality of relationship they choose or desire with their own family of origin. Pitting oneself against those genetic ties usually ends in heartbreak. This means more than ever that couples must have strong negotiation skills so they can come to solutions that work for both partners.

Pete and I wish you the very best for the holidays this year. We value our relationship with you and the therapy community. We look forward to new opportunities to share our thoughts and training materials with you in the new year.

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Dr. Ellyn Bader

Dr. Ellyn Bader is Co-Founder & Director of The Couples Institute and creator of The Developmental Model of Couples Therapy. Ellyn is widely recognized as an expert in couples therapy, and since 2006 she has led innovative online training programs for therapists. Professionals from around the world connect with her through internet, conference calls and blog discussions to study couples therapy. Ellyn’s first book, "In Quest of the Mythical Mate," won the Clark Vincent Award by the California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists for its outstanding contribution to the field of marital therapy and is now in its 18th printing. She has been featured on over 50 radio and television programs including "The Today Show" and "CBS Early Morning News," and she has been quoted in many publications including "The New York Times," "The Oprah Magazine" and "Cosmopolitan."

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