Why Do I Keep Having the Same Relationship Problems?

Posted by on Aug 23, 2014 in Couples Resources | Comments Off on Why Do I Keep Having the Same Relationship Problems?

Many people are baffled when they find themselves experiencing the same type of relationship problems, over and over again, with different partners or the same partner. They often conclude that it’s the partner that is the problem, and feel victimized by the ubiquity of this issue. We, however, have a different stance on this, one that emphasizes personal responsibility. And one that is best exemplified by the the 1993 Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day. While many see this movie as another mindless, goofy Bill Murray movie, there is a deep, profound message here, for relationships in particular and life in general. On the surface, Murray plays a jaded weatherman who is forced to relive the same Groundhog Day over and over and over again until he learns how to truly love. Each morning he awakens to the horror that his life has not changed at all, that he is forced to repeat the same day over yet again, with the same small-town people he despises saying the same things and doing the same things they always do. No matter what he tries to do, even killing himself, every morning he is back in the exact same situation. There is no escape from his daily living nightmare. Without anyone to talk to who understands what he is going through, Murray engages in a very slow process of trial and …

Trust Issues on the Rise

Posted by on Aug 23, 2014 in Couples Resources | Comments Off on Trust Issues on the Rise

Since about 2005, we have seen a tremendous rise in the number of people coming to our office presenting with trust issues in their relationship. The reality is that today’s technology makes it easier than ever to hide what you’re doing from your partner. Today’s trust issues run the gamut from:

  • physical affairs
  • emotional affairs
  • hiding text messages
  • hiding Facebook friends’ message (or un-friending your spouse or significant other)
  • hiding cell phone call lists
  • hiding emails

The hallmark of all of these is that you are experiencing strong positive feelings from interacting with someone else, and you are keeping the contact a secret from your partner. You’re aware that you’re doing something that would upset them if they knew about it.

Trust issues are particularly pernicious because they cause your partner to shut down and defend themselves against further hurt. They destroy the safety that is the foundation is a healthy, loving connection – and that allows you to be open and vulnerable, and therefore create a deep, solid connection. And when trust is repeatedly violated, it’s like ripping off a scab that hasn’t fully healed – it’s raw and painful, and the road to recovery gets that much longer.

Why do people cheat? Some people are suffering from a serious problem such as sexual addiction or compulsivity. But most people don’t hide or lie because they are …

Warning Signs of Relationship Breakdown

Posted by on Aug 23, 2014 in Couples Resources | Comments Off on Warning Signs of Relationship Breakdown

One of the most useful recent research findings is the work which has identified the early warning signs of deterioration of an intimate relationship. Based on these signs, researchers have been able to predict with a very high degree of accuracy (about 90%) which relationships are likely to end within a few years. This information is crucial in accepting when your relationship is in serious need of more attention or help.

Dr. J. Gottman and colleagues at the University of Washington have found that there are four specific signs of deterioration of an intimate relationship. In order of increasing danger, they are listed below:

Criticism – instead of merely complaining, the person attacks and blames their partner’s personality and/or character, such as “you are a selfish uncaring person”;

Contempt – feedback with the intent to insult and/or psychologically abuse the partner, such as “you are more than stupid: a total idiot “;

Defensiveness – not being willing to listen to anything your partner has to say to you, out of fear of them hurting or attacking you; and

Stonewalling – ignoring, avoiding and distancing from your partner.

References: Gottman, J. M. (1993). A theory of marital dissolution and stability. Journal of Family Psychology, 7, 57-75; Gottman, J. (1999). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. Crown Books.

Dr. H. Markman and Dr. S. Stanley at the University of …

The Stages of Committed Relationships

Posted by on Aug 23, 2014 in Couples Resources | Comments Off on The Stages of Committed Relationships

When attempting to create a loving, healthy intimate relationship, it is important to have an accurate roadmap for the journey. Most of our culture’s roadmaps have emphasized fantasy, illusion and denial, and those who follow those maps will tend to have unhappy, conflict-ridden relationships. What follows is a reality-based roadmap which comes from research into couples’ actual experiences of being in long-term relationships.

While theorists disagree on the exact name and number of the stages couples progress through, there is a general consensus that couples go through some version of the following stages. Not everyone goes through all the stages and some couples may go through them in a different sequence, but for most couples this is the normative experience in a long-term committed relationship.


This is the love that Hollywood loves to promote as the only kind of love. Romantic love is wonderful, easy, and effortless. It is very spontaneous and alive. The feelings and perceptions that go through both people are that we are one; we are the same. You are perfect. I can give and receive love with little or no effort required. There is a tremendous emphasis on maximizing similarities and minimizing differences. There is a belief and expectation that you will provide most or all of my wants, needs, desires. There is generally a high degree of passion and feelings …

The Benefits of Marriage

Posted by on Aug 23, 2014 in Couples Resources | Comments Off on The Benefits of Marriage

If we told you we knew about something that would extend your life span by up to eight years, improve your immune system, reduce the incidence of physical, mental and substance abuse disorders, help you recover from illness and surgery more quickly, result in more satisfying and more frequent sexual relations, and increase your financial net worth, would you be interested in finding out how to get this thing for yourself? How much would you pay for it if it was in a pill? How hard would you work to get it? Just what is this amazing thing? A new miracle vitamin or nutritional supplement? A new tape program advertised in hour-long infomercials on late-night TV?

The good news is that we all are very familiar with this magical something that adds all these benefits to our lives. It’s called marriage. That’s right, marriage. A book, The Case for Marriage, by sociologist Dr. Linda Waite, a top family scholar at the University of Chicago, and Maggie Gallagher, Director of the Marriage Program at the Institute for American Values, discusses the enormous multi-dimensional benefits of being married.

Among the findings from the research that led to this book:

  • married people live up to eight years’ longer than divorced or never-married people. In fact, over 90% of married people live to be at least 65 years old, while only 60%

On the Rebound

Posted by on Aug 23, 2014 in Couples Resources | Comments Off on On the Rebound

In our relationship seminars we frequently hear people ask about "rebound relationships". How do you know if you or someone you’re dating is really on the rebound? Can it ever be a good thing? And what’s the best ways to handle the strong urges you may have to be with someone new after a breakup?

A breakup of a serious intimate relationship can be a very difficult experience, and is often accompanied by feelings of confusion, sadness, anxiety, sleeplessness, appetite loss (or binge eating), and generally feeling off-balance. Feelings of self-worth may be low. We may question our attractiveness and desirability for future relationships. We may feel emotionally raw, vulnerable and needy at times. We may feel lonely and miss the affection and sensual gratification of our previous relationship.

One very tempting way to cope with this unpleasant state is to literally fall into the arms of someone else who will catch us, hold us, and tell us what we most want to hear and feel: that’s we’re okay, we’re worthwhile, we’re attractive, we’re desirable, and we’re lovable. And when we choose to sexualize this coping strategy and experience the wonderfully mesmerizing fireworks of infatuation and lust, we can all but forget about our past pain. Loss? What sadness? Who? Life becomes a joyous spontaneous encounter with the present moment. Ah, relief and distraction from our pain. And …

Addictive Love Relationships

Posted by on Aug 23, 2014 in Couples Resources | Comments Off on Addictive Love Relationships

There are two fascinating qualities that can enter into our lives or the lives of those we care for at any moment: love and addiction. At first these two may appear to be strange bedfellows: love evokes pleasurable images of couples passionately embracing or tenderly gazing into each others’ eyes, while addiction brings up a darker, grim, even desperate image of a person struggling against a part of themselves that is out of control. Yet at their core, they both have in common a profound spiritual yearning: the desire to transcend the self, to experience powerful states of bliss and ecstasy and to merge with and feel a part of something greater than oneself.

In a rational, left-brain dominated culture such as ours, where opportunities for transformative, visionary experiences are limited (and are even consciously suppressed by some individuals and institutions), love and addiction have become two of the most common vehicles of modern life for experiencing powerful, ecstatic, altered states of consciousness, temporarily removing us from the mundane routines of everyday life and seemingly opening up powerful new dimensions of reality and possibility. With addictions, of course, these new dimensions turn out to be wisps of smoke, mirrors and illusion, as the reality of the addiction eventually crashes down upon the user’s life. And even with love, which has its own set of illusions and tricks, we …

Keeping Your Romance Alive

Posted by on Aug 23, 2014 in Couples Resources | Comments Off on Keeping Your Romance Alive

In our work as a couples therapists, one of the most frequent questions we hear from couples is: How can we bring the romance back into our relationship? For many couples, their relationship has turned stale and empty, and feelings of tenderness and passion are replaced with resentment and/or boredom.

There are a number of factors which are responsible for this phenomenon in committed relationships. First of all, it is crucial to recognize any unresolved resentments that are present in the relationship. Resentment is the cancer that will eventually eat away at the tender and loving feelings in a relationship. It is impossible to feel resentful and loving at the same time. Secondly, couples often take each other for granted as time goes on, and make the relationship a low priority in their lives relative to jobs, children, hobbies and other activities. Thirdly, pleasurable and passionate activities which the couple used to engage in often drop out of the couple’s repertoire over time.

These issues can be resolved, though putting changes into practice requires some effort and commitment:

  • Resolve any past or present resentments! If you don’t know how to do so, learn how now! There is no greater gift for yourself or your partner than learning how to resolve conflict and resentments. These are skills which any motivated couple can learn, if they are willing to put

Green Flags: Good Signs in a Dating Partner

Posted by on Aug 23, 2014 in Couples Resources | Comments Off on Green Flags: Good Signs in a Dating Partner

There are plenty of single people who are conscious and healthy and have some insight into themselves. The following is a list of the traits and behaviors that an ideal healthy dating partner will exhibit. While no one may fit all of these, use this as a general guide to assess the health of your partner.

Healthy dating partners:

  • are comfortable in discussing their feelings about their past and present life
  • have good relationships with their family members but are also living a physically and psychologically independent life
  • respect your physical and emotional boundaries and reveal vulnerable information about themselves gradually over time
  • use intoxicants occasionally or not at all, and when they do use them, they do so without losing control or significantly changing their personality
  • are comfortable and secure enough within themselves to be satisfied with attention from you; do not need to constantly seek out attention and admiration from others
  • are psychologically finished with previous significant relationships
  • have had enough time to get over the breakup of their last significant relationship (at least three to six months from a breakup with a dating partner and at least one year from the legal date of a divorce or breakup from a cohabiting or marriage relationship)
  • are financially stable and seem to be able to handle financial issues without losing control
  • can balance the need for control

Red Flags: The Importance of Dating Defensively

Posted by on Aug 23, 2014 in Couples Resources | Comments Off on Red Flags: The Importance of Dating Defensively

In the beginning of dating, when the love, infatuation and romance is out in full force, there is a strong desire to move closer and deeper as quickly as possible. The danger in this is that you really barely know the true person you are dating. "Dating defensively" is a good idea, especially in the first few months. It is essential that you determine how emotionally and physically safe you are with this person that you barely know.

The following is a list of the most common issues to be mindful of in your new dating partner. While none of these issues means you should immediately stop seeing someone, realize that the greater the number of issues your new dating partner has that are on this list, the greater your potential to be hurt. And remember that in the beginning of dating, this is as good as it gets! So if you’re seeing red flags during a time in which everything is set up to be easy and fun, it is not a good sign and you should proceed very cautiously.

The purpose of dating is to learn as much about the person as possible, and have fun at the same time. The following list will help you get a good sense about how safe this person is for you. Read this list over after you start dating …