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Category: marriage

What is Structural Family Therapy?

What is Structural Family Therapy?

I’m grateful to Sal Minuchin for helping us as family therapists understand, conceptualize and maneuver within the dynamic structures of families: the way that the emotional and legal connections of parents to their children over generations create fluid as well as fixed patterns of hierarchies, loyalties, rules, subsystems, coalitions and boundaries. While we may know these experiences instinctively, his theory gives us a vocabulary, structure and system of talking and thinking about these automatic family features. I’m particularly glad for…

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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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Your Big F***ing Job Can Ruin Your Marriage

Your Big F***ing Job Can Ruin Your Marriage

As our economy has crawled out of the recession, so many people have experienced the shrinking of the job force at their companies, and the subsequent increase in the demands of their job descriptions. Many are doing the work that 2 (or even more) people have done in the past. More people are traveling more miles, more leaders are being pressured to increase production, or customers, or digital content, or whatever is on the front line of worry for stake…

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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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Long Term Marriages are Different

Long Term Marriages are Different

From Madeleine L’Engle’s Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage:  Speaking of her 40 year marriage to her husband Hugh Franklin: “We were not a latter-day Heloise and Abelard, Pelleas and Melisande when we married. For one thing, the Heloises and Abelards, the Pelleases and Melisandes, do not get married and stay married for forty years. A love which depends solely on romance, on the combustion of two attracting chemistries, tends to fizzle out. The famous lovers usually end up…

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When To Get Marriage Therapy

When To Get Marriage Therapy

Most couples come to therapy when they have completely run out of steam. While there is a great deal that MFTs can do to help, it’s not a time in the family when people feel resilient, optimistic or energized. In order to create permanent change, one needs a good deal of hope and energy. And so does one’s partner. I’ve observed that for many couples (especially those who have had a less-than smooth relationship history, full of stops and re-starts,…

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Getting the Love You Want: Review

Getting the Love You Want: Review

Getting the Love You Want : A Guide for Couples by Harville HendrixMy rating: 3 of 5 stars 3.5 stars Hendrix and I have preaching and church ministry as a young adult in common. I love this about him. What I don’t love is that his psychology model is born of psychoanalytic and Freudian models. He believes that we marry unconsciously to heal the wounds that our early lives have inflicted upon us, and that good marriages heal those wounds….

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Willing to Risk Again

Willing to Risk Again

Several times this week I have found myself talking to new couple clients about their relationships, and how hurt has caused them to feel withdrawn from their partners. Sometimes this distance has lasted for years, the human need for support, connection and understanding no longer expected from their spouse.  One of the most important aspects of relationship repair is the willingness to risk being open to a partner who has been months or years at odds with our needs and…

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You’d Be Proud

You’d Be Proud

We put our one and only (in every sense of this phrase) 16 year old daughter on a plane to Germany two weeks ago. She has been traveling with a group of German language students and their teacher to the motherland, a trip that has been all year in the making. It was a rather anxious start. Worst was the torrent of rain that she and I drove in from home to the Minneapolis airport. It was probably the worst…

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Monogamy: It’s Not for Everybody

Monogamy: It’s Not for Everybody

Back in the day when I performed weddings, starry-eyed couples would come to my church office to do premarital counseling and plan their (elaborate) wedding ceremony. I guess I never stopped to consider it much, but I assumed, as did they, that the promise to be “faithful until death parts us” was seriously considered and solemnly promised before and during the wedding service. They only had eyes for one another. Yet, I knew that about half of all the weddings…

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