Monday, May 27, 2013


Has it really been over a month since my last post?  Actually, that is a rhetorical question, I already know the answer.  I have been practicing what I preach and slowing down to about one-third of my normal do-it-all, know-it-all pace. Whether you hear from me or not, this blog and its readers are never far from my mind.

Instead of talking about one particular subject, I thought I would reflect on what I have learned in the past few months from the wonderful couples who I am privileged to work with - at all stages of the life cycle.

PRE-MARITAL COUPLES: These couples are awesome. I love their earnestness, optimism and courage . Like kids walking down the  plank of a high diving board for the first time and about to plunge into an unknown swimming pool, they march bravely ahead with their eyes fixed on their wedding day.  They reflect on possible problem areas and their shared vision for their future marriage and life together. These couples are quite different from the older couples who I work with who often have years of hurt and resentment from which they need to heal.  These couples are excited and hopeful. And so am I. I love being their cheerleader, mentor and lifeguard as they prepare to take the plunge.

COUPLES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN: This group is a pooped out, hardworking bunch.  The parents often try to squeeze working several jobs as well as full time parenting into one life. They come into marriage therapy exhausted and depleted - often like two ships passing in the night as they take different shifts of child care and employment at home.  Is it surprising that their marriage and yes, sex life, is on the back burner?  In fact the back burner is barely burning at all.

 These conscientious and hard working couples are pretty much in survival mode.  Who can blame them?  A huge part of the problem is cultural and systemic with the post industrial break down of the extended family and other supports no longer available for young families.  Economic stresses do not help.  My message for these couples goes something like this - SELF CARE, SELF CARE, SELF CARE.  With all the loving and care-giving that is necessary and the tremendous out-pouring of energy that is required, these couples need to make sure that their individual cups are filled.  Then, they can have something left over to give to one another.

ADOPTIVE COUPLES:   Adoptive parents, at least from my vantage point, are among the most conscientious parents in the world.  Regardless of the state of their marriage, they will do anything, I repeat anything for their kids.  Often children who are adopted come with a unique set of problems and no instruction book.  These couples get tutors, OTs, psychiatrists and every helping professional known to humankind to help these kids catch up.  The parents are tigers at IEP meetings and fierce advocates for their kids at school.  As an adoptive parent myself, this is a group that I am proud to be part of. Being a few steps ahead of my clients, I can assure them that all the hard work and effort pays off.

 Needless to say, the wear and tear from any parenting, but especially kids with special needs, can take a toll on a couple.  I remind all these hard working couples of something a wise person once told me, Loving your spouse is the best gift that you can give your child.  It seems paradoxical but it works.  Putting your spouse back on the front burner will reap dividends for your family.

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