More on the BIG BIG Book

With each question you answer, you're learning how to think about your marriage. With each question, you're reflecting on areas that are problematic, but equally important, you're learning what's still working well between you.

Every question in The BIG BIG Book provides your couples therapist with essential information they need in order to help both of you.

Let's face it.  Few of us actually ENJOY filling out forms.  But The BIG BIG Book is different.

Two girls, 8 and 10 years old, sticking their tongues out

Who "likes" filling out forms?

Team Members or Opponents?

A bad marriage is every bit a team sport as a successful marriage.  However, in a good marriage you're on the same team, and in a bad one you're on opposing sides. So when we look at The BIG BIG Book, we read your stories side-by-side. We want to know which side you're on.

  • Do you both agree there is a problem with "Fondness and Admiration"?
  • Do you feel comfortable with disagreements?
  • Do you trust your partner or feel they look to take advantage of you?
hispanic woman looking skeptically at a man
Do you consider your partner trustworthy?
Marriage means trusting in each other's dreams and having that trust rewarded.

But These Aren't Curiosities

Each and every question provides your therapist with a blueprint, a guideline to help you get on the same team.

  • Do you have a strong level of trust? Does your partner put your needs equal to his or her own?
  • Are you committed to staying together or does the slightest turmoil generate thoughts of leaving?
  • What would you say have been "regrettable incidents" that are lingering and have created resentments?

Personal Questions​

But not all questions are about your relationship.  We want to know something about you, as a person, too.  We want to know about your stresses and troubles. We want to know about work pressures and health ailments. We want to know about your children, stepchildren and grandchildren. Every question focuses our understanding of you as a total person, with a complicated life and complex motives.​

Lebanese woman smiling
Understanding your past helps you to
make sense of who you are today.

Family History​

It is a truism to say that our family-of-origin shapes the people we've become today, either by good or bad example. But we don't "psych you out" to point the finger.  We need to understand your past to help you make sense of today. Or perhaps to help you understand yourself at bit better.

We're clinicians first.  That means we know how to psychotherapeutically treat individuals as well as couples. So we know how issues like depression or anxiety can impact you and your marriage. It is a give-and-take between helping you manage whatever concrete issues you might have, and how you and your partner can work together with those issues, to improve your marriage despite them.

Focusing On Today

As important as the past is, however, we want you to function better right here, right now. We want you to have a stronger relationship foundation to enjoy more energy, feel more passionate about life and your partner, and look forward to coming home at the end of the day. 

  • What are the most stressful aspects of your marriage for you?
  • What hurts do you have a hard time recovering from?
  • What would be the most important (and difficult) thing you could do right now that would dramatically improve your relationship?
Irish couple looking at camera embracing outdoors
Look forward to coming home and spending time together.
Young couple with hand drawn room around them, looking up and holding hands
Do you remember your dreams?  Every conflict contains a dream. Don't give up on your dreams.

Focusing on Tomorrow

Goals don't have to be mutual. One person can have different hopes and dreams from their partner, and that's alright. But how well do you understand your partner's dreams?  How well do you understand your own?

In every conflict, science has taught us that there's a dream buried deep inside.  Something you hold dear, and cannot let go of. Dr. John Gottman calls these your "bones."  In a fight, you can't give up your bones. Our job is to help you to articulate those dreams, those values, those "bones."

Then we help both of you to recognize that you CAN have your dreams (in fact you must), in order to become happily married. 

If you sacrifice what's most precious to you in order to stay married, we haven't done our jobs.

Therefore, The BIG BIG Book has many questions that focus on today, not the past. And also the future...

Focusing on Sexuality

Some of our couples are best of friends, they just have no sex life. And it's agonizing.

People often believe it's just a matter of lacking "sexual chemistry," but that's not the case. 

Sexual chemistry isn't a "hormone" that runs through your system in the presence of a desirable other. Sexual chemistry is a complex set of variables that we understand and work with you on.

The questions about sexuality in the book are both from the Gottman Institute, and created by Dr. Kathy McMahon (Dr. K) to help us understand that "fingerprint" complexity of your sexual desire and passion. Once we understand it, we can help you work to improve your passions.​

valentines day
It's not a matter of sexual chemistry.  Passion is
much more complicated.