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.
Dave: I have to take a moment to applaud my good friend and muse, Amy Begel, who has a splendid capacity to wrap complex experiences in words. I am a […]
Parenting advice often describes ways to “manage” a child’s temper tantrums. But temper tantrums, or defiant behavior in kids contain important messages for the parents. Often, without meaning to, kids are responding to underlying tensions in the family. They react in the only way they know how: through their behavior. The message: HELP!
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:
In his thoughtful Op-Ed from The New York Times, psychotherapist Avi Klein reflects on the men who come to him for therapy. He says many are grappling with “layers of […]
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.
Depression is not a straightforward problem; it typically doesn’t yield to straightforward solutions. Here Dave consults on a case of an elderly depressed woman. His seemingly crazy intervention brings surprising results. Enjoy.
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.
In this post Dave reflects on a case from his early career in child psychiatry, where he recounts his play therapy experience with a seven-year old autistic girl. He still winces when he remembers his therapeutic mistake, but remains grateful for his relationship with this young, silent girl, and what she taught him.
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.
We have become a nation of fixers. We want to fix stuff as soon as its broken, including our moods. We don’t have much tolerance for ambiguity, or lack of resolution. Or emotional pain. What’s the problem with that, you might ask? Because often our attempt to “fix” our moods, or our pain, ends up making the problem worse, or more long-lasting. Here’s another way to do it.
We all know about Family Group Psychosis. We just never had a name for it. Check out Dave Keith’s description of that heightened state of (often disguised) insanity that occurs around important holidays–like Christmas–and significant events, like weddings. Here he tells us about a madcap clinical case where Family Group Psychosis led to a woman’s surprising transformation.
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 […]