Peter Pearson

From now on if someone calls me “chicken,” I'll take that as a huge compliment.

For any person – especially a male – being called chicken is a searing insult. But not for me. Not anymore.

Not after what I witnessed. Here’s the back story.

It was a summer afternoon on my vacation in Kauai. I was on the patio feeding a mother hen and her five baby chicks bits of wheat bread. They run wild on the Hawaiian island and are protected by state law.

I got to the place where the baby chicks eagerly ate out of my hand.

Then I fed a chunk to Mama Hen and she dropped it on the ground. Immediately one of the chicks snatched it and ran off. I thought Mama Hen had a strange medical condition and couldn’t hold onto her food.

But repeatedly she would take the bread bits from my hand and then drop them for the chicks. I know chickens are always hungry or ready to eat. But not Mama Hen.

She fed the chicks first.

But then – Papa Rooster marched on over. He was puffing his colorful chest and crowing. I was betting he would eat his share first.

I guess I was projecting my own selfishness. He, too, picked up the bread bit and then dropped it for the chicks.

I was humbled. Taking care of the hungry scrambling little ones came first. For both of them.

Nature’s lesson created a sinking feeling in my stomach. I preach teamwork for couples. I also preach restricting the “me first” attitude that is lethal in marriages. And I instinctively and harshly judged both Mama Hen and Papa Rooster.

If they would have tolerated it, I would’ve hugged the whole brood.

In that moment, enjoying life on a patio in Hawaii, I witnessed a lesson of giving when it is not convenient or easy. Putting food in your mouth and then giving it away even if you are hungry.

Call me a chicken now, and I will conjure up a scene of generous giving – and aspire to do better when it is not easy.



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.

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4 years ago

Thank you!

3 years ago

Great blog. My partner pointed it out. We met september last year. Read everything. As we both have CEN which she is dealing with already for years and years and let mee see my problems too. After 1/2y I finally opened my eyes this week and start reading and studying complete days to improve myself. So I still make some timing (saying my feelings at wrong moment in conversation) and communication (interrupting) errors I hope its not too late but I have a really bad feeling it is as I have broken her trust and she doesnt want to be caretaker in assisting. She applauds my initiative but cant promise anything as she was hinting already half a year ago but I didnt see it so didnt do anything with it.
Thanks anyway

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