How Marriage Counseling Can Save A Family

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By Cassandra Johanssen

familyfunEveryone has problems and issues in life, a lot of this we learn from and correct for later life, let’s face it, nothing is ever totally broken, though stressful, everything can be fixed. This is also true for relationships, in my own personal opinion I think a relationship with arguments and disagreements is a healthy one. No two people in the world will agree on every single thing, there will always be differences of opinions and choices.

Though many of these issues can be worked through alone, quite often there can be a buildup of tension over a long period of time, this tension creates many problems all at once so it can be tough to talk them through together and you will both end up disagreeing about everything.

Take the plunge

If you have both reached that point where there is a lot more arguing going on and you cannot seem to sort through anything, you might want to look into marriage counseling. This is nothing to be ashamed of at all, in 2010 there was a study undertaken with 134 chronically and seriously distressed couples, after 26 weekly therapy sessions 48% showed significant improvement, 27% separated and divorced and the remainder was unchanged.

Sometimes we cannot always work through our problems alone or as a couple, at times we need a neutral person in the room to liaison between each other, someone to help talk through the problems and underlying issues.

Here is the perfect success story of a couple who fell in love again.

Forget divorce and try salvage

Marriage is actually on the decline and many couples who were once in love and no longer see eye to eye will instantly bring up divorce as the accepted process to “fix” things. We as a human race are suborn and are built to take the easiest route with things, sometimes it is better to take the long road, especially if you have already settled and have a family to think about and not just yourselves. Here I have listed a few reasons as to why you will need one:

● Communication breakdown – Once communication has deteriorated, it is hard to get that back on the right track leaving only negative communication which leaves both parties depressed, insecure, anxious and more. Sometimes it is not what you say, it is how it is said. This is also where tit for tat goes on back and forth.

● An affair has taken place – This is one of the main reasons people use marriage therapy, so long as you are both truthful and committed to the therapy, it should work out, though there is no magical, fast track to take.

● Are you my roommate? – When it feels like you are just “living with someone” rather than feeling like being a couple, then counseling might be just the ticket. This does not mean spending every living second together in the house, what it means is the intimacy and communication has completely disappeared.

● For the children – Many couples actually stay together for the children, when involving a third party to sort things out and talk through the issues may make everything better for all involved. Children should never be the deciding factor here.

familyrunChildren can pick up on this, I remember reading an article online from a therapist. A teenagers grades were declining in school and when the therapist in the school asked why the child said “I know my parents hate each other, they are staying together for my benefit” The therapist asked “How would you know that?” and she replied “Well they talk nicely to each other, but they don’t laugh like my friends parents”.

Children can pick up on a lot more than you think!

To help save my own marriage I went to a counselor in Broomfield, Colorado and it was not as bad as I first thought. Involving the third party really calmed things down and we were actually able to talk throughout problems and issues. We are still working on it but each day and therapy session is one step closer to a happy future.

– Cassandra Johanssen is a marketing consultant living in Boulder, Colorado. Her hobbies include dream analysis and making dream weavers. Cassandra is also currently training for her 3rd marathon.

Achieving “OK” Is “Great” in Marriage

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By Larry F. Waldman, Ph.D., ABPP

joggersIronworks Inc. and Acme Steel have been doing business together for twenty-five years. Ironworks manufactures steel widgets and Acme sells raw steel. These two companies have worked together for all this time for two basic reasons:

1. They need each other.

2. The money is right. Ironworks believes they are buying their raw materials at a reasonable price and Acme believes they are selling their steel at an acceptable price.

Since these companies are privately-held profit-making businesses, it is likely that they each desire to make increased profits. However, if Acme notifies Ironworks that next month the price per ton of steel will increase 50%, Ironworks may grudgingly make their next order but will immediately begin searching for a new supplier. By the same token, if Ironworks notifies Acme that next month they will only pay 50% less per ton of steel, Acme may reluctantly fill the next order but will immediately begin searching for a new customer. Thus, if either company substantially alters the price in their favor, a business relationship that had endured a quarter-century will collapse.

seniors2This analogy regarding these two companies closely relates to marriage: When the two companies conducted business with each other such that both were satisfied (not necessarily overjoyed) with the financial arrangement, the business relationship prospered. When either company attempted to seek a greater profit—a “win”—the relationship dissolved. Similarly, when couples interact in a spirit of compromise and cooperation the union flourishes. However, when one or both partners argues to “win,” frequently issues edicts or ultimatums, or threatens divorce if they don’t get their way, the marriage is threatened. Like the long-term business relationship between Ironworks Inc. and Acme Steel, marriage works best when each party strives for mutual satisfaction—not a personal win. Therefore, achieving “ok” in marriage is “great.”

Larry F. Waldman, Ph.D., ABPP is a licensed psychologist who has practiced in the Paradise Valley area of Phoenix for 35 years. He works with children, adolescents, parents, adults, and couples. He also provides forensic consultations in the areas of family law, personal injury, and estate planning. He speaks professionally to laypersons, educators, corporations, and fellow mental health professionals. He teaches graduate courses for the Educational Psychology Department for Northern Arizona University. He is the author of “Who’s Raising Whom? A Parent’s Guide to Effective Child Discipline,” “Coping with Your Adolescent,” “How Come I Love Him But Can’t Live With Him? Making Your Marriage Work Better,” “The Graduate Course You Never Had: How to Develop, Manage, Market a Flourishing Private Practice—With and Without Managed Care,” and “Too Busy Earning a Living to Make Your Fortune? Discover the Psychology of Achieving Your Life Goals.” His contact information is: 602-996-8619; 11020 N. Tatum Blvd., Bldg E, Suite 100, Phoenix, AZ 85028;

We Were Married 41 Years Ago Today

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By Bob Livingstone

marriedDear Gail,

We were married in the middle of Kansas in the middle of day and in the middle of turmoil in America.

You were dressed in white complete with a bonnet and I was wearing a rented tux and a top hat like the dancers wore at the end of Blazing Saddles. Your mother said, “Take that clown hat off” and I immediately followed her orders even though it was my wedding.

The festivities took place at Sunset Park in Salina, Kansas. It was nearly one hundred degrees and the sun was beating down on us.

We were very much an anomaly; an interracial marriage smack in the nation’s heartland. An African American woman marrying a white man wasn’t common in those days; certainly not in 1972. Certainly not in Kansas.

The ceremony had Catholic and Jewish aspects reflecting the religions we were brought up with. I am the Jew from New Jersey and you are the Catholic Black woman from Kansas.

The minister was Lutheran and way too progressive for this area. The audience was a mixture of old and young folks of different ethnicities.

I was so scared and at one point in time during the service when I was bending on one knee, I silently asked myself what in the world was I doing getting married at the age of twenty one. You were always so calm and patient; I am still in awe of how you carry yourself with so much presence.

I remember really wanting to make your mother happy because she was the first adult to shower me with unconditional love.

My mother and I were just beginning to deal with the deep conflicts that separated us. After a long, painful journey, we eventually found peace together.

But Gail, it is so sad that our mothers are no longer with us; that they both died some time ago. Matter of fact, when you look at the wedding family photo there are many loved ones no longer here.

Time has flown by. Remember when we packed up the car in Lawrence, Kansas and drove to San Francisco? We arrived here and made the city our home for over thirty years now.

We both learned early on that we are fiercely independent people and had intense authority issues working for bosses.

loveI started a private psychotherapy practice in the late 1980′s. I work with children, teens and adults. I have also written three books. You have always supported my work and I couldn’t have done it without you.

You created an Afro-Centric elementary school in 1979 that has been a life saver and changer for many children. You instill confidence in the kids and teach them to believe in themselves; just like you have done for me all these years.

I know that I am not exactly a walk in the park or a day at the beach. I am unreasonable and I lose faith in life sometimes. When my emotional pain is triggered, I believe that I will never be soothed. This causes me to be sullen, withdrawn and emotionally unavailable.

I hope you know that I am always striving to be a better man and am a continuing flawed work in progress.

I am lucky to have you to share my life with. We have so many things in common: music, sports, and politics. The division between the haves and have nots had increased massively since the day we got married. We are involved in fighting against those who hate others because they are different. We fight against racial injustice and gentrification.

We both share the value of providing service to those who need help. This is a tradition deeply steeped in the Jewish and African American belief systems.

We have been through so much together. We have mourned the death of our closest loved ones. We have developed and maintained great friendships. We have been deeply hurt by the abrupt ending of other relationships. We have miscommunicated in times of crisis and at other times have made the deepest connections two people can make.

I hope that I can help you make your dreams come true. Thank you for bringing so much joy into my life. I cherish you and am so grateful to whoever or whatever brought you into my life.

To find out more about finding joy, please click on this link

Bob Livingstone is the author the critically acclaimed Unchain the Pain: How to be Your Own Therapist, Norlights Press 2011, The Body Mind Soul Solution: Healing Emotional Pain through Exercise, Pegasus Books, 2007 and Redemption of the Shattered: A Teenager’s Healing Journey through Sandtray Therapy, Booklocker 2002. He is a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker in private practice in The San Francisco Bay Area and has nearly twenty five years experience working with adults, adolescents and children.