Marriage in the Movies: Boyhood

Hopefully, some time soon, you will go out and see an almost 3 hour movie about nothing in particular, and everything that’s meaningful to being human.
“Boyhood” took 12 years to make, and followed one family over that time. And one particular boy. Mason Jr.
While those who work with children or adolescents can talk about Mason’s early year transitions or his teenage drug use, as a marriage therapist I’m drawn to talk about the marriage that wasn’t. The movie was shocking in its normality. I cried several times during the film, and my husband teared up during other scenes…I believe in my heart that with some help, couples like this can be having a different sort of conversation. A conversation about her fury, disappointment, and crushed dreams. He could tell her that he wants to be responsible, but he also wants to be true to who he really is. And he’d tell her he still loves her, and he’s sorry, so sorry that it all turned out like this.

Portrait of a Marriage ~ Wounds that Won’t Heal

In relationships, sometimes the way a couples relate is the problem, and the therapist’s job is to help the couple modify their interactional styles (i.e.: teaching them how to “communicate better”).
Sometimes, however, improving communication is not enough. They may have a long history of “no fighting,” yet both remain discontent, unsettled, or sad. For many, the work requires them to look more deeply into the conflict, to find the dreams that reside there.
Some wounds go deep. They have a history that began a long time ago, even before the couple met and got together. An individual may have partially resolved the issue, through individual counseling, addiction treatment, or their own hard work.
But painful memories leave scars.
In this post, I’ll be talking about one couples that had to do work on themselves, as well as their marriage, in order to have a happier relationship.

Novel Experiences in Marriage: Always Stressful?

Studies have shown that novel experiences can actually stimulate the production of the neuro-chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine, which show up in the brain in the early, blissful stages of a relationship. About 13 percent of people reported high levels of romance in their long-term relationships, in a new study published in the March issue of the journal Review of General Psychology.

Will your marriage be one of the lucky them?
International Couples Advice by a USA Psychologist

There may be some aspects of living in a international couples relationship that invites this type of novel experience. Here are three of the big ones:
Novel Experience One: Learn the Language

Learn the language. Go beyond elementary levels, and really study the idioms, the “mindset” and the world view. Watch movies that have sexy scenes in that same native language, and learn what “sexy talk” is to your spouse. It may surprise you to learn that bilingual Spanish/English women in one study had a very different sexual experience when they had “sex in Spanish” than they did in English.

When Life Imitates Art – A Child’s Doodle and Mother’s Letting Go

Those things you hold so dear cannot change and grow and expand unless you loosen your grip on them a little.  In sharing my artwork and allowing our daughter to be an equal in our collaborations, I helped solidify her confidence, which is way more precious than any doodle I could have done.  In her …

When Life Imitates Art – A Child’s Doodle and Mother’s Letting Go Read More »

3 Marital Mistakes You’re Probably Making Right Now

“Happy Families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Chapter 1, first line, Russian mystic novelist (1828-1910)
It turns out that the opposite is true.

Unhappy families have rigid patterns of behavior, restraining their behavior more than happy families. So the fact is that unhappy families are all alike, and science is teaching us how, and what to do about it.

Defensiveness in Marriage: “It’s not my fault, it’s YOUR FAULT!”

We are all guilty of it. Defensiveness is often seen in even the best of relationships.
Our partner raises an issue with us they would like us to address, and it shoots straight into our hearts. Instead of responding directly to these issues, we become 8 years old again, and say:

“I know you are, but what am I!”
“I’m rubber, you’re glue, anything that comes at me, goes back to you and STICKS!”
“Shut up! You are a poopy head!”

But of course, we are now adults, with many more sophisticated words to defend ourselves with. So we show defensiveness saying things like this:

“Gee, Doris, it is curious you say that, because I was just going to ask the same thing of you…”
“I think you are being a tad unreasonable here. You know that’s impossible for me to do, given my current work schedule.”
“I’m afraid that wasn’t me who did/thought/said/felt that. It was you.”

Or maybe we are harsher in our defensiveness with responses such as:

Emotional Distance in Marriage

Camilla partially blames herself, because the emotional distance in marriage was just too upsetting to her. She says, “I should leave him alone more, like he asks, but I just can’t. I’m lonely. And I can’t stand feeling like we are two strangers living under the same roof.”
Her husband, Paul agrees. “I tell her ‘Just leave me alone, and I’ll come to you when I’m ready.’ I can’t stand it when she asks over and over ‘Do you love me?’ I say: ‘We’re married aren’t we?'” But he never comes because he is never “ready,” enough. And Camilla never waits long enough for him feel the urge to go to her. The difference between Camilla and Paul go back much earlier than their marriage, differences researchers call “Attachment Styles.” “Baked in the cake” very early in childhood, these differences impact how close is “too close” or how far is “too far,” for each of them. But the good news is that the real issue isn’t that Camilla needs more active attention and Paul needs more time alone. The problem with emotional distance in marriage is that

Sexless Marriage & the Politics of Wanting

Tina and Bill* have been married 22 years. If you met them, you would say they are an attractive, vibrant, middle-aged couple. Bill is in IT and runs a large organization. Tina runs a health and wellness franchise. They stay physically fit, take exotic vacations, and throw lavish dinner parties. In many ways, they are the “ideal” couple.

And they have been in a sexless marriage for over 12 years.

Sex Tips for Mature Couples

No one assumes sexuality is a right for those over 50. You have to grab it. Here are three sex tips for mature couples you can use today. Viagra alone is no promise for a satisfying, intense sexual relationship. It takes more than XXX-movies or dress-up. Mature sex is something that is cultivated, an acquired taste and a developed skill.
You first have to learn how to calm yourself down, and get away from the land of “right” and “wrong.”

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