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Category: couples

Core Long-Term Marriage Skills

Core Long-Term Marriage Skills

One of my couple clients asked me to create a summary of our work together. I know¬†these skills apply to nearly every long-term marriage, so I share them here. 1. Assume positive intent from your spouse. Trust him/her. Build positive interactions. Look for the good. Notice it, appreciate it. Stop trying to control the outcome of every interaction so that you feel less vulnerable. Protect yourself less, be open to one another more. 2. Self-focus: always pay more attention to…

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Direct vs. Indirect Communication

Direct vs. Indirect Communication

Nearly every time I meet with a new couple, one or both of the partners will tell me they think that their main problem is “communication.” When I ask them to tell me more about what they mean, they will often talk about repeated and escalating conflicts, days of avoiding contact, in-house separation, lack of eye contact and physical touch, and constant critical vocal tones. And more. What I hear in that sad list of problems is a relationship that…

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What Every Husband Ought to Know about Marriage Conflict

What Every Husband Ought to Know about Marriage Conflict

Nobody likes to hear someone close to them be critical, blaming or shaming. It feels bad. And sometimes scary. It turns out that when women talk like that to their husbands, contrary to popular opinion, most men feel this intense criticism very strongly in their bodies. And because male bodies “rev up” faster than women’s in stress (heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, tunnel vision), in order to protect themselves and their relationships from too much emotion, men frequently, readily,…

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What Every Wife Ought to Know about Marriage Conflict

What Every Wife Ought to Know about Marriage Conflict

If I had the opportunity to share one essential marital tool with every wife in America, I know exactly what I would say: Learn to bring up difficult topics with your partner in a calm, quiet and focused voice. Marital researcher Dr. John Gottman has studied tens of thousands of marital conversations over 30 + years. He has found that there are 4 distinct communication habits that are poison to happy relationships. He calls them the “Four Horsemen,” like the…

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Men Have Emotions, Too

Men Have Emotions, Too

“Men seem to have a mental file drawer where they can store unpleasant experience. Open it up, drop it in, slam it shut. Done.” One of my friends was talking about her own experience in her marriage, and wondered if I agreed. Well, it’s complicated. I do think that in western culture, men are expected to be problem solvers: movers, shakers, thinkers. This is what it takes to succeed in a market economy, where competition for work and other resources…

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Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Must

Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Must

Today in Minnesota was a milestone day : it’s the first day that marriage for gay and lesbian couples became legal in our state. In courthouses, hotel lobbies, and backyards around the state couples who have waited for years, sometimes decades, recited vows, were blessed and declared spouses. It is a day of great joy in so many lives! It’s expected by those in the know that hundreds of new marriages of same-sex couples will be taking place in the…

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