Over the years, I’ve seen many couples whose presenting complaint revolves around sex. Usually it’s because the sex is too infrequent, too lackluster, or at the male parter has some kind of sexual dysfunction. (I’ve only seen one case where the complaint was too much sex!) As usual, unless there’s a biological problem, the sexual relationship is embedded in the larger emotional/psychological dance of the couple. Learning about this dance, and how to do some new steps, can change everything.
Anyone who is married for any length of time knows that the relationship undergoes many transformations in the course of living together. Most of these transformations are unconscious, outside awareness, and often felt as subtle–or not so subtle–tensions between the couple. One of the most profound transformations occurs with the birth of the first child, that magic transition from a two-person to a three-person family. The unconscious contract of the relationship, that subtle “agreement” which binds the couple , undergoes one of the most important stress-tests in the life of the couple. Almost nothing tests the elasticity, the creativity, and the commitment of a couple like the act of becoming parents. Here is a case which shows how painful this test can be.
Comedian/actor Paul Scheer tells the story of how he and his wife, wanting to be “cool parents”, stepped into a bar with their six-week old son. The new parents wanted […]
We talk a lot about how couples “create” each other as a result of ongoing, intimate patterns in the course of a relationship.These patterns are mostly unconscious, meaning outside awareness. And it’s interesting how change happens in a marriage. Mostly it’s the result of some indirect shift in the undercurrents of the relationship, either in the course of life, or sometimes with the help of therapy. It can feel mysterious, and hard to grasp. Sometimes, when one person changes, it can make all the difference. Here is such a case:
All marriages have divorce built into them. Often, though, we end up re-marrying the same person. This is a powerful–and painful –process necessary for growth, both as a couple and as individuals. In this post, Dave talks about some of the dynamics in marriage that help us understand this universal phase in the life of a couple.
Tensions in marriage are normal, and unavoidable. They’re part of the price of intimacy. Problems only occur when these underlying tensions are ongoing, and not acknowledged. They are semi-buried. Children are geniuses at feeling these latent tensions; they often help magnify what hasn’t been addressed. In fact, in their own way, they may be trying to help.
Therapist Avi Klein wrote about the shame many men feel about their emotions, particularly feelings that expose a sense of vulnerability. We see men like that often in therapy with couples. Here’s a case of how one man allowed himself to be un-masked, and how it transformed the couple’s relationship.
An extra-marital affair is one of the most profound “Stress Tests” of a marriage. Many couples who use this crisis as an opportunity to examine the state of their marriage end up with a more alive, more genuine connection. But others fail this test. What’s the difference between these couples? Here’s what one couple who didn’t make it looks like.
Women who feel depressed often see this as a purely personal struggle, believing they have a “chemical imbalance”. They may feel burdened and alone, and responsible and/or guilty for their depression.
In fact, depression is rarely a simple personal affair. Most often, the roots of depression can be found in that person’s intimate relationship sphere, where important parts of our happiness/unhappiness live. Here’s one woman’s story of how she moved from depression to owning her own power.
In this post, a family therapist and our good friend, Raluca, shares her observations about working with couples who are caught in hopeless power struggles. She talks about how the power of play can unlock these couples from a dead-end cycle, creating a sense of freedom and possibility.
The psychological defense mechanism of projection can distort a parent’s judgement about their kids, or it can create a wedge between a couple, since projection interferes with the ability to see one’s partner as she truly is. The (unconscious) grip from the past gets in the way. Here’s a therapy session that looks at how this projection process played out in one family, and how it was–for the moment-transformed.
Most people believe that they can’t change their partner. “My husband is the way he is,” or “My wife is that way with everyone.” They imagine their partner to be a fixed entity. They see themselves as primarily responding TO their partner, a one-way street filled with frustration. People fail to understand the most fundamental Law of Intimate Relationship Physics: Each partner changes and helps to create the other. The only question is how.
Probably the most painful aspect of an affair is the breaking of trust. Most of those who’ve been betrayed wonder if restoring trust is possible. That’s understandable. And it’s impossible to have a lasting relationship without trust. In the case of affairs, regaining trust is absolutely possible, but it comes with a price. See if you think it’s worth it.
Extramarital affairs, that most painful of betrayals, can actually be a catalyst for a couple’s re-birth. But it’s a tricky process, and needs to be handled with care. Here are some tips on how to make it work.
The ability and willingness to trust in one’s parter seems to be a precondition for a healthy and stable connection. But lack of trust can be made of many things. You often have to look beneath the surface to uncover what’s behind this potentially corrosive force. It often began before the couple even met.
This is some advice from Adam Grant, professor of management and psychology at the Wharton School of Business. In today’s New York Times, Grant writes about how allowing for healthy […]