Books

4 Tips for Really Hearing Someone Even When It’s Hard

How often do we actually listen to other people when they’re talking? I mean listening without focusing on how we’re going to respond, without interrupting, without debating what they’re saying, without getting defensive. Probably less often than we like to think, even though listening is incredibly important. It’s important for building beautiful relationships and for navigating every area of our lives.

We need to listen carefully at work to our bosses and colleagues. We need to listen carefully to our clients. We need to listen carefully to our partners and our kids and to all of our loved ones. This is how we gain a deeper understanding of the people we’re interacting with. This is how we avoid misinterpretations and miscommunication. It’s how we resolve conflict. And it’s how we genuinely connect and strengthen our bonds.
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General

Rekindling the Spark in a Long-Term Marriage

People tend to work very hard to get into that “once-in-a-lifetime” relationship. The honeymoon phase of courting and dating requires great effort to let the other know that she is special, that he is “the one.”

Falling in love with your partner for the first time is all-consuming. Maintaining the love and affection once a relationship is well-established also requires effort. Often the responsibilities of life, work, and children may get in the way of focusing on the love and happiness that one feels toward his or her spouse. Your spouse may start to feel more like your roommate than your lover. It is possible, and actually enjoyable, to recapture the romance and fall back in love.

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General

The Boys in the Boat — a Metaphor for Marriage

When you dream of a great marriage, what do you see? Spouses enjoying being together, basically in harmony for a lifetime?

Or does “happily married” sound to you like an impossible dream?

Cynicism about marriage is common these days. Fairytales that finish with “and they lived happily ever after” don’t mention a key ingredient in marriage. Nor do novels and movies give credence to the importance of this element: Teamwork.
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Disorders

Why Men Stay Away from Therapy — and Why It’s Actually a Perfect Match

A man went to see psychologist Ryan Howes solely because his wife wanted him to. She wanted him to work on his communication and become more comfortable with intimacy. He wanted to be anywhere but there.

Many men feel this way about therapy.* And many men avoid it -- even when they’re struggling and need it most. They often see attending therapy as a “sign of weakness or inadequacy,” said Jean Fitzpatrick, LP, a psychotherapist who has extensive experience working with both men and women and whose practice focuses on relationship and career issues. In particular, men over 50 tend to have a harder time being vulnerable and putting their feelings into words, she said.

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Anger

The Art of Apologizing

Apologizing is hard. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a halfhearted apology, you know how demoralizing that feels. In stark contrast, a good apology is elixir for relationship wounds.

Mara and Jack had been living together for a year. While dusting, Mara accidentally knocked over a glass figurine and it shattered against the tile floor. Unfortunately, it was the cherished award Jack received as an honor for his fine work in advertising.

Mara’s first impulse was to hide the evidence. She was panicked about how Jack would react. She entertained fantasies of running away to avoid his anger and upset.
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Anger

3 Ways Couples Get Stuck and How to Move Through It

Every couple gets stuck. After all, relationships take work, and conflict is inevitable. Sometimes, we might be on different pages. Sometimes, we might unwittingly do things that keep us and our partners spinning our wheels.

Below, Ashley Thorn, a licensed marriage and family therapist, shared three ways couples commonly get stuck and how you can move forward when it happens to you. Because that’s the great thing: You aren’t stuck forever. You can use certain techniques to help you reconnect to your partner and enhance your relationship.
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Anger

4 Steps to Surviving Infidelity

Of all the things someone can do to ruin a relationship, cheating is usually considered to be the most unforgivable. But if statistics are true, then nearly half of us will encounter infidelity at some point in our lives -- either our partner’s or our own.

Reactions to infidelity depend on many factors. Evidence suggests that, in the context of heterosexual relationships, men find it more difficult to forgive a sexual affair while women take emotional infidelity much harder. It is also much easier to move beyond an affair that’s voluntarily disclosed by the cheating partner than one that’s unexpectedly discovered.

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General

5 Ways to Make Love Thrive

You may have discovered that despite your best intentions, you can’t control the course of love. While the experience of love is replete with awe and wonder, how to create conditions for it is not a great mystery. Rather than exhaust ourselves trying to control people, we’d be wiser to make skillful efforts to create these five conditions, culled over 35 years of being a marriage and family therapist.
Mindfulness

John Gottman, a psychologist an author of
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General

These 3 Lists Can Help Singles Find a Great Mate

Accomplishing any goal is usually a step by step process, starting with gaining clarity about just
what we want. Yet too many people do not give the first step sufficient care. If your goal is a good marriage, it can be helpful to first identify qualities you need in a marriage partner.     

Gaining Clarity   

I ask participants in my “Marry with Confidence” workshops for women to make three lists:
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Anger

Transforming My Angry Tightness

Last year, my husband Jon wanted me to do something I didn’t want to do. Jon promised his father they would speak on the phone at a certain time. So I had to leave Connecticut earlier than I wanted (to find cell phone reception), cutting short my lovely Sunday afternoon in the country. I felt myself get “tight” in my body, angry at having to make the accommodation.

I am not proud of my selfish reaction. Nevertheless I was powerless to stop it. My body tightened and I pushed back, asking Jon in a complaining voice, “What’s the big deal if you talk to your dad later?” But Jon insisted, claiming he made a promise he wanted to keep. So we rushed out the door.

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ADHD and ADD

How to Prioritize Your Life When You Have ADHD, Part 1

Prioritizing may seem simple enough. You figure out what you need to do, when you need to do it, and then you do it. But there are actually many steps and processes involved in prioritizing your life. These include everything from paying and shifting attention to planning to getting organized to making decisions to taking action -- all of which also involve multiple steps within each piece. And all these parts and pieces are challenging for people with ADHD because of impairments in executive functioning.

That means that it’s important to have good strategies in place that take those obstacles into account. First, it’s important to identify what’s really troubling you about prioritizing. As ADHD coach Casey Dixon, PCC, BCC, said, are you struggling with knowing your priorities or following through on your priorities? Because these will require very different strategies.
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Anxiety and Panic

Living with an Anxious Spouse

All couples have their share of life challenges or issues throughout their relationship. However, when one spouse has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, the couple faces a whole new set of challenges. Normal, everyday life issues seem to become exaggerated and can inevitably put a significant strain on the relationship.

Living with an anxiety disorder is typically associated with a great deal of personal distress, but it can be just as hard on the partners of those diagnosed with anxiety. Their significant others often take on more than the normal share of financial burden, household responsibilities, and emotional support.

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