You probably know couples whose relationships have been damaged—or devastated—by infidelity. Some of you have been through this yourselves. Few things hurt worse than the betrayal of having your partner step outside of your marital commitment to each other. In our marriage counseling work with couples, we often get asked, “How can we affair-proof our relationship?” In this two-minute video, Sue Johnson (the leading expert in couples therapy) offers timely wisdom addressing the question: “Can you affair proof your relationship?” Continue reading
Are you interested in bringing more happiness into your relationship? Successful couples and marriages share common practices that bring them greater strength, deeper joy, and more lasting love. Consider how you can bring these ten practices of happy couples into your own relationship: Continue reading
My Lucky Day
This past week I celebrated “Lucky Day” — the anniversary of my first date with my lovely wife. I felt like it was my lucky day when she went on that first date with me; eleven years later, I’m even more convinced of how blessed I am to have her. She’s intelligent, thoughtful, and passionate about making a difference in the world. I sensed all of these qualities in her very early on in our relationship. Now, with more than a decade of marriage behind us, I’ve discovered even more depth to our relationship, as we’ve worked through our ups and downs, started a family, moved across the country, and supported each other during difficult times. Although we’ve never stopped loving each other, falling in love again is a good practice for any couple — and it’s possible for most. Continue reading
Like many of you, I was saddened when I learned of Robin Williams’ suicide this week. I have such fond memories of being entertained by his spectacular wit and humor. And like too many of you, the news brought back memories of several times in my life when I’ve lost friends and acquaintances to suicide. Just this past month, while attending my 20th high school reunion, I learned that several of my former classmates had taken their lives in the past 10 years.
The statistics about suicide are sobering, especially for men. Research from the World Health Organization indicates that although the incidence of depression is higher among women, men commit suicide more often than women in nearly every country worldwide. An estimated one million people take their lives each year – yet even one life lost to suicide is too many.
Thankfully, you and I have escaped the terrible, dark undertow of suicide – we’re still here. So it is for us, the living, that I’m writing today.
What Matters is What’s True Because of Us
“Everything’s that true despite us – the things they’re talking about, natural laws – will always remain true despite us. What matters is what’s true because of us. That’s what’s up for grabs. That’s where the battle is. One remembers and values one’s life not for its objective truths, but for the emotional truths…The only thing that’s really true, that lasts, and makes life worthwhile is the truth that’s fixed in the heart. That’s what we live and die for. It comes in epiphanies, and it comes in love, and don’t ever let frightened people turn you away from it.”
– from Mark Helprin, “In Sunlight and In Shadow”
Empowerment vs. Victimhood
In my counseling practice, I often meet with couples and individuals who feel like victims in their own lives. Some get caught up in addictions; others in pursuits that leave them feeling empty. Others have just gotten bogged down by the daily grind, and some are caught in cycles of blame and hurt in their relationships. My heart aches for these people as they describe feelings of discouragement and helplessness. Don’t get me wrong – I’m fully away that bad things happen to good people. Nonetheless, life seems far more daunting when you focus solely on how everything and everyone affects you.
In contrast, when you focus (as the above quote suggests) on what is true because of you, you are in an empowered position. Continue reading
How can I know if my marriage is in trouble?
If we fight, what does that say about our marriage?
Can we hope for happiness if we aren’t “soul mates”?
Why can’t we communicate with each other when we need each other the most?
Over the past several decades, research in marriage therapy and attachment (the study of how we bond in love relationships) has helped us to find empowering answers to these questions. In this brief video, world-renowned therapist and EFT founder Sue Johnson shares some of these vital insights into creating loving, secure bonds with those who matter most. Continue reading
Even though most couples start out with the best of hopes for their marriages, it is inevitable that they experience some disappointments and unmet expectations along the way.
Loving each other deeply does not translate into always wanting the same thing at the same time. How couples respond to these disappointments can have a huge effect on their happiness and security.
How Consumer Values Undermine Marriage
William Doherty, a well-known author and Marriage & Family Therapist identifies “consumer” attitudes as a particularly harmful response to the disappointments in marriage. As he explains in his book “Take Back your Marriage,” the marketing messages in our consumer society are designed to convince us that what we have and who we are is never enough, and that we can earn more money, have nicer things, or appear younger, slimmer, and more attractive if we purchase a certain product. When we carry the same attitudes and values into our marriages, we can dwell on our disappointments with our spouse, lose sight of their positive qualities, feel deprived, and becoming convinced that we deserve more than what we are receiving. When these thoughts are focused on over time, those feelings of resentment, comparison, and deprivation diminish our ability and desire to appreciate the good and to engage the marriage in a healthy way.
Quiz: Is your marriage becoming a consumer marriage?
As a young boy I felt both fascinated and frightened by the thought of jumping off the high dive at the local outdoor swimming pool. Somehow, I gathered the courage to make the jump into the deep water many feet below–and then I thought I was going to die, since I didn’t yet know how to swim. For a time, I was too afraid to venture back into the water, but with encouragement, coaching, and a lot of practice, I became a strong swimmer. A leap off the diving board into the deep end was no longer terrifying or reckless.
Swimming in the Deep End of Marriage
In our marriage counseling practice here in the Denver area, we often see couples making the same mistakes with the “deep” issues in their relationships that I made at the pool those many years ago: they swing to the extremes of either avoiding the deep issues of their relationships, or they push each other into the deep end, without the needed safety and guidance to swim successfully together through the depths of important issues.
Marriage Mistake #1: Avoiding the Deep End
To be seen for our heart–who we really are, and who we have the potential to become–is a beautiful thing. This video (set to the music of Mindy Gledhill) has a charming message about seeing past someone’s scars to their lovable and valuable core. Continue reading