Peter Pearson

Couples Resources

This page, organized by the type of program, summarizes the various couples resources that are offered by The Couples Institute. These are in addition to couples therapy, which is described here. Couples Workshops Sign up to join Michelle Wangler Joy, M.A., MFT, for the next Couples Communication Workshop to learn skills to overcome stubborn relationship challenges. Invite one of our therapists to speak to your couples, parents, or family-focused community group by contacting our office here. E-Book Initiating Calm Discussions In this e-book by Ellyn Bader, Ph.D. and Peter Pearson, Ph.D., you will discover three different perspectives for every discussion.… Read more... “Couples Resources”

Effective Communication Goes Against Human Nature

Communication is the most common presenting problem of couples in my practice. Yet, it is not truly the main problem. Even if couples utterly fail to talk, negotiate, or make decisions, there's a bigger problem than communication. When you're in a tense, difficult or nasty discussion with your partner, the problem isn't communication. The problem is your distressed emotional reaction about what they are saying. If your distress is severe enough, you are on the way to being at your worst. When you are at your worst, you're likely to bring out the worst in your partner. But you really hope your partner will respond with their higher self.… Read more... “Effective Communication Goes Against Human Nature”

How to Write an Apology

Being apologetic doesn't come easily for me. Unfortunately, being inconsiderate and self-centered does. So I realized long ago that my marital survival would depend on two things: 1) learning to apologize and 2) becoming less selfish and more considerate. It was easier to start with apologies. Over time I got better and better at learning how to apologize. I was amazed at the effect. First, it was the basic mumbling of, “I'm sorry.” Those two words were remarkable in healing bruised feelings. It was as if I had a license to do what I wanted– as long as I looked sincere and said, “I'm sorry.” It was like having a “Get out of jail free” Monopoly card.… Read more... “How to Write an Apology”

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”

Confessions of a Marriage Counselor

I have a confession to make. I want to be accepted for who I am. I hear this lament from so many couples, it's universal. I bet you've even had the same thought yourself. Our culture teaches, “I'm okay, you're okay,” unconditional love, and win-wins for all. So what's the problem? I know it well. When my wife, Ellyn, criticizes me, I often think, “Hey, get off my back.” But this is just a camouflaged way of wanting unconditional acceptance. I'd rather she accept my behavior so I don't have to take a closer look at what's going on, work to improve myself, or negotiate a compromise with her.… Read more... “Confessions of a Marriage Counselor”

Take Time in Confronting Spouse’s Annoying Habits

Today's question is answered by therapist Peter Pearson, co-founder of the Menlo Park Couples Institute. QUESTION: My husband and I have been married 20 years, and we get along well most of the time, but lately a new habit of his is driving me crazy. He will stay up much later than I do to ”work”; then I get up to go to the bathroom and find him playing Solitaire on the computer at 2 a.m. It's such a waste of time, plus he doesn't get enough sleep. I think he is addicted to the game. Am I nuts to let this bug me? I know he feels guilty because if he hears me coming, he switches from Solitaire to work. ANSWER: At the heart of every marital complaint is one person who's annoyed or frustrated at something a partner does or does not do.… Read more... “Take Time in Confronting Spouse’s Annoying Habits”
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