If you really loved me

Love knots are faulty assumptions that sabotage intimacy. They may seem true, but upon closer examination, we realize they aren’t based on rationale expectations. Consider one of the most common: “If you really loved me …” If you really loved me, you would know what I want, and you would do it. Since you don’t, you…

Sustaining positive relationship change and growth

Change is the one thing you can count on in relationships. The relationship changes as external circumstances change and as the needs, desires, growth and experience of the partner’s shift. At the same time, resistance to change is normal and should come as no surprise, even when a proposed change clearly makes sense. We resist…

Six questions towards a better relationship

Focus specifically on issues in your relationship that are important to you. It is useful to ask six questions in order to arrive at the issues you would like to negotiate. What do I want that I am not getting? What am I getting that I don’t want? What am I giving that I don’t…

The relationship contract

Most couples who are unhappy in their relationship feel disappointed, if not outright betrayed, that what they expected to find in the relationship either hasn’t happened or has stopped happening.

Symptoms of inner peace

Some signs and symptoms of inner peace: A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment. A loss of interest in judging other people. A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others. A loss of interest in power and conflict….

Individuation and differentiation

There are some concepts that I have tried to put in simple language, about the emotional development needed for a grownup adult relationship (See Guidelines for Grownups). I’d like to introduce another type of language.  Murray Bowen, a psychiatrist who was Director of the Family Studies Center at Georgetown University, has developed some terminology that…

Thoughts of a sexual male

I am a forty-five year-old man, divorced and re-married, with one daughter and one stepdaughter. I have lived most of my life with lots of thoughts about sex.

Stress and the bedroom

Is stress causing problems in your bedroom? How many of the following questions do you answer in the affirmative? Does sex seem like more trouble than it’s worth? Do household chores and office responsibilities get in the way of sexual activity? Do you think about these responsibilities while you are making love? Do you feel…

Eroticism and lovemaking

Nowhere is it more important to consciously know and understand what gives pleasure to your partner than in the bedroom.

Early messages about sensuality

After the hand massage, it can be helpful to journal or share with another person your answers to these sentence stems. Mother gave me the sense that my body was… Mother gave me the sense that sex was… Mother gave me a view of men as… Mother gave me the sense that love was… When Mother…

Recognizing and dealing with jealousy

It is said that if we have high self-esteem, we will tend to be less jealous. This is in some measure true. It is also true that jealousy can be a cause of low self-esteem, as well as the result of it. Given a situation in which one feels outdone by a rival, in which…

Security?

There is no such thing as security. There never has been.

Jealousy: the most destructive issue in intimacy

Jealousy is so often a destructive issue in intimacy. Jealousy and envy may be the least understood of the emotions and are, potentially, the most devastating to intimate relationships. Their manifestations can be so subtle and covert that we may be able to recognize them only in retrospect, long after they have done their damage. Jealousy…

Warriors to soulmates

From Warrior to Soul Mate is a unique and important program helping many of America’s Veterans strengthen the health of their families.

Emotional levels of maturity

At various times we all function at different levels of maturity. This is particularly true of intimate relationships and often varies markedly from our functioning in the workplace. At different times in close relationships we may function like an emotional infant, child, adolescent or adult depending on the circumstances and our own personality. The chronological…

Behaviors, attitudes and love

When our needs are met, we feel pleasure. When our need for bonding is met, our feeling of pleasure can become attached to the person who meets that need. If one person meets our need for bonding, and perhaps other needs as well, the pleasure intensifies and becomes the feeling we call love. When we…

Love’s acceptors and rejectors

Some people have decided at some point that the price of love is too high; we call them rejectors. They act as if, “No matter what you do, I won’t love you.” Others we call acceptors. They are willing to pay any price for love, put up with any pain for the hope of being…

Joyless, mindless, loveless messages

Based on what happened to us early in life, what we saw and experienced, we made decisions about life that are still operating today. These form our invisible life scripts and control our choices. For example, a young man grew up in a home that was filled with strife and tension. He left home early,…

Relationship guidelines for grown-ups

If you wonder what’s gone wrong in your relationship, examine how well (maturely or immaturely) you are functioning in terms of the following guidelines: Are you able to recognize when you (and/or your partner) are functioning from the “infant”, “child”, “adolescent” and “adult” emotional state? Do you habitually deconfuse the childlike parts of yourself (which…

Why a good marriage will break your heart

Loving is not for the weak. We encourage people to love and desire their partner, never really realizing what we’re encouraging them to do. Desire involves wanting and longing. Who among us really wants to want? Who is ready to crave their partner, without the guarantee that the partner will always be there to satisfy…

Love dies

Love dies in contact with the impersonal and the anonymous.

Bonding is the heart of intimacy

Bonding is the single most important concept for improving a relationship. It’s also the one concept couples often know least about. “Bonding” means a unique combination of physical and emotional intimacy, the linking of touch and emotions. This is the factor most often lacking when couples report “something missing” in their relationship. Couples who experience…

Reflection on death and loss

Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there. I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow; I am a diamond’s glint on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain; I am the gentle autumn’s rain. When you awaken in the morning’s hush, I am the swift uplifting…

Three hopes, three fears

When we marry, there are three hopes and three fears. The hopes are that: everything good you have ever had, you will keep everything that you have ever wanted but didn’t have, you will find, and everything bad that ever happened to you will not happen with this person whom you trust, you love, and…

Value of bonding for relationships

Acknowledging and accepting the real feeling of the moment and immediately using it to deal with the present issue. (Not judging or rationalizing or denying the “gunnysacking”). Ownership of my ‘old tapes’ and taking responsibility for monitoring their effect on my present relationships and interactions and shifting my focus to the present situation/person. Differentiation of…

A man’s ode to love and confusion

As a man I need a woman Whom I can control And Who will challenge Me So I won’t be Bored A woman who will also Worship my wisdom And stimulate my mind And be a brilliant Conversationalist and attractive So I will look Good But Not too attractive Or I will feel Threatened And…

A woman’s ode to love and confusion

As a Woman I Need a Man Who is strong So I will feel Secure But If he is too strong I will feel Controlled So I must need a man Who is passive And then I will feel In control But I can’t respect someone I can control And he will not be Sexually…

Power struggles

Power struggles are an attempt by one partner to dominate the other and are generally a self-esteem issue. Self-esteem is tied to winning. In addition, there is the fear of being controlled by one’s partner.  This makes for the classic one-up-one-down relationship, in which one partner dominates by intimidation and the other submits. In this relationship,…

The Handyman

If you are in pain, I believe I should be able to fix it. I don’t know how to fix it, so I feel inadequate. I get angry at you for making me feel inadequate. I withdraw from you and blame you when you are in pain. ~ Lori Heyman Gordon

Separating assumptions from behaviors

All of us bring certain assumptions to our intimate relationships, expectations we don’t have of anyone else. They are specific to those with whom we are closest.  Typical positive expectations include a steady supply of undivided attention, words and gestures of love and caring, loyalty, constancy, sex, companionship, agreement, friendship, fidelity, honesty, trust, respect and…

Becoming non-defensive

What do we have to do to be able to hear complaints or criticism? We first have to be willing to know and to accept ourselves. We really have to believe that we are good enough, lovable, and entitled–entitled to be happy, to make mistakes, and to ask for help. “I am good enough” is…

Feelings and self-disclosure

People usually find they have the most difficulty with identifying and admitting to themselves what they actually feel, and then disclosing their feelings frankly to their partner. This may happen partly because we’ve accepted certain values uncritically from earlier models. Often we adopt attitudes (such as, “It isn’t ladylike to get angry,” and “Only a…

Improving self-esteem

Strengthening our self-esteem means examining the old scripts our families and society have handed us, or that we created ourselves under their influence. That means learning to let go of some of the old scripts we’ve lived by, and write new ones that suit us better. We must learn to value ourselves, and try to be…

On guilt

Guilt is among the most destructive and devastating of human emotions. Because of its painfulness and its terrible impact on self-worth, guilt inclines one toward suppression, walls and denial. Denial causes dehumanization, a loss of the capacity for empathy for one’s partner or for others, and can manifest itself in a variety of insidious ways….

Self-esteem as our autoimmune system

One way to look at self-esteem is to think of it as something we do!! Many of us walk around feeling more or less OK until something happens to trigger off our doubts about ourselves. Perhaps something we are building does not work, a friend criticizes us, or a lover acts cold. Suddenly we are…

Our secret fears

Most of us walk around with one of two secret fears: I am not lovable, or, I am not good enough. Some of us walk around with both of them.

Self-worth and intimacy

Nothing is more important to intimacy than our sense of self-worth. How we feel about ourselves in relation to other people is a major factor in the quality of intimate relationships. Trouble in a relationship almost always involves a problem with self-esteem.

Home alone

Another common love knot …. If you tell me what you want, I feel controlled or obligated to do what you want. When I feel controlled, I feel weak and inadequate.   I cannot give you what you ask for without feeling resentful.   If you tell me your feelings, I must do what you…

Effective communication is a requirement for problem solving

Effective communication is a requirement for effective problem solving in an intimate relationship.  While most of us communicate effectively in our work, effectiveness has a different meaning in an intimate relationship.  It is important to explore those different meanings. How we communicate is the problem more often than what we communicate.  If the ways we…

Developing emotional literacy

Emotional Literacy means an educated person who can read and write emotions – but what does that mean?  And, how do we develop it?

The new rules for relating

As western society moved into the 20th century, we came in with a very clearly prescribed way that males and females in marriage were to behave with one another.

Three Passions that Make Life Worth Living

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.  I…