Friday, March 28, 2014

Esther Perel: The secret to desire in a long-term relationship

Okay, so this is 19 minutes...but a really great investment if you want to learn about how to keep sex alive in the familiarity of marriage.  Can't believe that I am finally reading her book Mating in Captivity.  Foreplay is not something you do five minutes before the real thing...Responsibility and desire butt heads... Passionate couples have demystified the myth of spontaneity...committed sex is premeditated sex,it's focused and intentional...If you have been married more then five days, this is totally worth watching.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Shirley and Jenny: Two Elephants Reunited After More Than 20 Years

Comrades...survivors in a captive world.  With Jenny by her side, Shirley stands to face her future.  Home at last, they will lie out their days together...

The joyful reunion...attachment and they lumber off to live their life together...

Hoping this visual will help remove the chains and give a sweet picture of  hope for the future of all our marriages.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What Anna and Mr. Bates are Getting Wrong

Oooh, I am tearing my hair out! If only I were the marital therapist for Anna and Mr.Bates.  They are such an incredibly lovely couple but they are really getting this  all wrong.

The short version of the back story goes like this in case you are one of the few people on the face of the earth not watching Downton Abbey.  I understand such people do exist.

Anna and Mr. Bates are possibly one of the nicest, noblest couples on the face of the earth.  In a world fraught with secrets and civility, Anna and Mr. Bate's love and integrity is a shining example. I won't bore you with the details of how his ex-wife framed Mr. Bates for murdering her by killing herself and how Anna, with the help of the Crawley family, unravels the plot and saves Mr.Bates from hanging for a crime that he did not commit.

 From a clinical perspective, the trauma that this couple has survived helps explain some of the mistakes they make later in their marriage.  From a moral perspective, Thomas - the creepy butler-  is hellbent on collecting the dirt on the other servants. He considers Anna incorruptible.  You could say the same about Mr. Bates. In a world of good guys and bad guys, you know exactly where Anna and Mr. Bates stand.

When Anna is viciously raped by Mr. Gillingham's valet, Mr. Green, Anna is clearly traumatized, dazed and depressed.  It is not a bad depiction of the impact of rape on a woman.  Mrs. Hughes stumbles across Anna in the servant's quarters and finds her tattered and bruised. Anna tells Mrs. Hughes the truth but swears her to secrecy.  Here is where Anna makes her first mistake.  She does not disclose the rape to her husband.

She is clearly depressed, she goes so far as to move out of her home with Mr. Bates. Mr. Bates, obviously gets that something is amiss but he does not have a clue.  Exactly.

Out of fear that her husband will kill Mr. Green, Anna keeps the rape to herself.  It is a strangely protective strategy which does not work.

If only Anna and Mr. Bates were in marital therapy.  I would have encouraged her to disclose directly to Mr. Bates what happened.  They could have wept, grieved, gnashed their teeth and perhaps sought justice for this crime together. Talking in a safe context- always helps in marriage - especially when it comes to disclosing something huge that has violated the marriage and traumatized one of the partners. Surviving a terrible tragedy together can draw couples together and strengthen the bond.

 By not disclosing the rape to her husband,  the tension mounts between Anna and  Mr. Bates.  Mr. Bates finally wheedles part of the story out of Mrs. Hughes but in his own weird protective strategy does not tell Anna what he knows.  Meanwhile you can tell that Mr. Bates is seething with unexpressed rage.  Neither of them has disclosed the whole story to one another which - although incredibly painful - would have helped them to grieve and dissipate the rage.

Fast forward when Mr. Green, the rapist, turns up dead in the street on the same day that Mr. Bates has taken a leave from work, things are looking bad for Mr. Bates.  Has Anna's worst nightmare come true? Stay tuned.

The moral of this story so far is -- don't keep secrets.  I hate to speak in absolutes so I  will do my best. Secrets almost always come out- in one way or another. It is much healthier to disclose them directly.  Even well intentioned  secrets can wreck havoc on true intimacy in a marriage.

And talk.  Talking - in a safe context- is almost always a preferable alternative to keeping things to yourself. Anna and Mr. Bates are living proof of that. Gee- I hope he didn't do it.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Things Couples Should Say More Often - Guaranteed to Improve Your Marriage

 I LOVED the previous video Twenty Things We Should Say More Often.  It cracked me up and kept me giggling all day.  I could feel my endorphin's kicking in.  I quoted them to couples who I work with and giggled every time I did.  Check out the previous post if you missed it last week - More Wisdom From the Mouths of Babes.

The truth is that saying nice things in a nice tone of voice is guaranteed to improve your marriage.  Saying grumpy - if honest- critical, judgmental or harsh statements is guaranteed to make it worse. Research by John Gottman will back me up on this if you are the type that needs footnotes.  Otherwise, trust me.

Positive reinforcement is much more potent then negative and can change reactive, negative patterns.

Try using the following in your marriage and see what happens.

Thank you * sends a message of love and respect. It says that you value and appreciate the person.  Instead of nagging or kvetching about something you do not like about your spouse, try thanking them for something you do appreciate. Guaranteed to work.

Excuse me * similar to thank you.  It's Civility 101 in a marriage.

I'm sorry* should be an everyday part of the vocabulary of a married couple. It is simply impossible to live intimately with another person and not annoy or hurt one another.  Taking responsibility - even if you are only 1% wrong is appropriate and disarming in a marital conflict. You heard me right. Even if you are only 1% wrong -  own up to it.

I forgive you* is probably the single most important ingredient for a happy marriage.  Wrongs, offenses and hurt feelings are an inevitable part of married life.  Letting go of those feelings is critical.  This is not the same as cheap grace or excusing unacceptable behavior.  Forgiveness of life's everyday slights and hurts is part of maturity and a growing marriage.

More thoughts on 20 Things We Should Say More Often to come. Try these.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

More Wisdom for Couples from the Mouths of Babes...

I love this kid...I could write a blog post about each of his 20 things we should say more often....I especially love this one for couples,  It's okay to disagree just don't be mean about it.  Stay tuned to my follow-up to these wise words.