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Netflix’s “The Crown” & Joy in Marriage

Netflix’s “The Crown” & Joy in Marriage

Netflix’s major release of the second season of “The Crown,” a lavish and brilliantly acted biography of England’s Queen Elizabeth II in her very first years of her reign, is worth every moment of your time. Writer Peter Morgan is creating a masterpiece of historical drama. At it’s core are the conflicts that face a young woman whose father dies relatively young and has the British monarchy thrust upon her at 25. We’re witness to the parallel sacrifices of her…

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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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Sometimes it IS About You

Sometimes it IS About You

As a family therapist and systems thinker, I view the conflicts and discussions in my therapy office as shared events and problems. We are all connected; what I do effects my spouse, my children and other close relationships, just as what they do effects me. But there are times when one person’s habits, behaviors, attitudes, or choices are the source of a system’s pain. A problem frequently has a source. And it just might be you. One of the most…

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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 Goes Wrong in Marriage?

What Goes Wrong in Marriage?

When I was a parish pastor, I counseled dozens of couples who were preparing for marriage and presided at their ceremonies. Every one of them was a hopeful (if too stressful) occasion for both bride and groom. Virtually no one starts marriage without confidence that their relationship will last. Pledges are made, often “til death us do part.” Are some people marrying too fast, too young, too ill prepared for a joint married life? Yes. Add children into the mix and the…

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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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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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