Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Year, New Relationship

Happy New Year! No Mayan apocalypse (of course)! Life goes on and so do our relationships. Since this is the time of year we tend to set goals for the new year, I want to offer a few suggestions as to how you can make 2013 the best year of your marriage, no matter how long you have been together.

First off is gratitude. There is another human being that is willing to look past your imperfections and commit to being your spouse. This is certainly something to be grateful for. There are many things that are good about your spouse and your marriage, regardless of any imperfections. Focus on the good things. It is easy to let the negative grow so big that we no longer see the positive. Be aware of and grateful for what you have.

Next is to be your best self. Be the person you want your spouse to be. Just the other day I was thinking about something that my spouse didn't do for me. As I was getting ready to say something to her, miraculously my brain kicked in with a reminder of about 5 things that I should have done for her but had forgotten to do or had not yet done for her. So I shut my mouth and tried to do better myself. It is easy to be hypocritical and not even realize it. Love (the actions verb) your spouse. It is amazing how being a good person helps bring out the best in others.

Lastly, prioritize. Put your marriage in its rightful spot as the most important relationship you will ever have. Look at other areas of your life and make sure that nothing else takes priority over your spouse. Some things, like work or illness, may take more time in your life, but the priority, where you place your desire and importance, should be on your spouse.

Give these ideas a try and ring in the new year with a better marriage. Enjoy lucky '13!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

7 Great Ways to Destroy Your Marriage Over the Holidays!

'Tis the season of holiday stress and strain. Are you worried that you might actually make it through the holidays with your marriage intact? Fear not!! Here are 7 ways to guarantee that your marriage will suffer this holiday season, and crash and burn for the new year!

  1. Go to as many holiday activities and family festivities as you possibly can. As long as you are busy and don't take time to enjoy the season with your spouse, nothing else matters. Busy, busy, busy!
  2. When you are with your parents and family, ignore your spouse. Christmas is about family, not your spouse anyway, right? If you want to add some spicy stress goodness, make sure you discuss politics whenever possible. Or how bad your sex life is. 
  3. Talk with your family and friends about your marriage problems, especially your spouse's issues. Christmas is about sharing, so share away. This inconsiderate openness will surely deal a holiday blow to your marriage. 
  4. Buy whatever you want. It's Christmas time! This is what credit cards are for. I mean, debt is a great way to screw things up in your marriage, so spend away.
  5. Make your traditions more important than your spouse's traditions. Nothing says "I love you" during the holidays like sharing in each other's traditions. So make sure that you laugh off your spouse's silly old traditions. Add a little sarcasm or good old fashioned contempt, and your marriage is sure to suffer!
  6. Don't talk about concerns or issues that may arise. The holidays are no time to discuss issues! Bottle it up and let it explode at a later, more inconvenient time. 
  7. Don't take time for yourself. The holidays should be about sacrificing your own sanity and health for others. Plus your irritable mood will rub off on your spouse. There will be plenty of time to relax next year after the divorce.
If this post sounds a bit too close to reality, it may be time to reconsider your priorities. Or maybe a little therapy...

Merry Christmas, and have a Happy New Year!!

-The Marriage Doc

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Marriage: that I call the will of two to create the one who is more than those who created it. 
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Why Pornography and Marriage Don’t Mix

A couple I once worked with told me that a “TV Therapist” was encouraging couples to watch pornography together to improve their sex life. I have heard this before, and unfortunately it is not uncommon for therapists to recommend couples try it. DON’T DO IT! Sure, watching pornography together certainly will stimulate the libido and may even lead to a night or two of passion, but the risks FAR outweigh the benefits. Whether together, or individually, looking at pornography is very damaging to your marriage. Study after study show that pornography hurts marriage, increases the likelihood of divorce, can lead to addiction, and lowers sexual satisfaction in the marriage.

Pornography crops up as a frequent complaint in couples I work with in therapy. Most often, it is a wife that does not like that her husband looks at pornography. (By the way, if something you do hurts your spouse, yet you continue to do it, regardless of seeming silly, trivial, or common, it is abusive). Common complaints from the wife are that she feels less attractive compared to the women her husband is looking at, she feels that she cannot fulfill her husband sexually so he must turn to some other source. The same holds true when women use pornography. I have seen time and time again that pornography viewing by one or both partners leads to distrust, insecurity, and emotional distancing.

Three of the main issues with pornography are:

  • Pornography changes how you look at members of the opposite sex- pornography does not portray reality. The pictures and videos show people with makeup head to toe, airbrushed, photo-shopped, and most are barely 18, often doing things many people would be uncomfortable with. They are images of unachievable sexual perfection that does not truly exist. This leads to dissatisfaction with our “real” partners. It also promotes objectification. Pornographic images themselves are objects solely for personal gratification. They exist solely to arouse you sexually. Your spouse is not an object.
  • Pornography decreases sexual satisfaction- this has been shown time and time again through both research and observation. Porn can be turned on immediately, no matter the time of day, or circumstance- your partner cannot. You choose what the people look like, how long you stay aroused, and how quickly you climax- you can’t do that with your partner either. It is hard to compete with that...
  • Pornography takes the intimacy out of sex- healthy sex in a committed relationship not only feels good, but bonds couples together emotionally. Frequent porn consumption habituates the user to immediate gratification with no need for intimacy, respect, or relationship. Good sex in marriage is more like a dance, with each partner taking their own steps, staying in tune with the other’s needs and desires, and becoming one emotionally. Pornography is one-sided and purely hedonistic.

But some may say, “Come on, I can still have an amazing relationship and enjoy a little porn from time to time. You act like one look at porn will destroy my sex life and my marriage!” True, many people who look at pornography stay married, and have a satisfying relationship. But I know that things could be even better. 

Each time you look at pornography it builds memories of falsely perfect people for comparison with your partner (conscious or unconscious), associations of sexual arousal towards someone who is not your spouse, instant gratification (when such is rarely the case in real life), and numerous other distractions from a quality relationship. Like small raindrops can eventually erode a rock, each time leaves its mark in your brain. Why make things more difficult than they have to be in your relationship? Why not strive for deeper intimacy in your marriage, for better sex with your spouse, and for greater attraction to your amazing yet imperfect spouse? If people spent the same amount of time on their relationships as they do searching for and using pornography, they would have far greater sexual satisfaction in their marriages. If you are already having problems in your marriage, pornography will guarantee things will get worse. So turn off the porn, and turn towards your spouse!

Monday, May 9, 2011


"We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love."

-Tom Robbins

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Quick Thought

Do you spend as much time talking with your spouse as you do on Facebook, email, or texting?


The greatest weakness of most humans is their hesitancy to tell others how much they love them while they're still alive.
-Olando Battista

Fix My Spouse!

Frequently people will come to my office and want me to "fix" their spouse. They will have some complaint, usually starting out with a "she doesn't" or "he does" that they want changed. There is a great qutote by Carl Jung in regards to parenting that with a small tweak applies perfectly to couples in this situation. Jung says, “If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.” Change two words and you get:

If there is anything that we wish to change in our spouse, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.

This is a great place to start. What part do I have to play in this problem? So many problems would be solved, or at least made lighter, if we would look to ourselves before we looked to others. As with parenting, the more we become the person we want others to be, the more they will follow suit. In healthy relationships, it becomes increasingly more difficult to be a bad spouse to a good spouse. If this doesn't work, then there are deeper issues at play. Talk it over, communicate clearly, respect each other, be what you want to see in your spouse, and if the problem remains, then it is time to seek help. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.

-David Augsburger

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Magic Relationship Ratio

Dr. John Gottman, the nations leading relationship researcher, has studied couples for decades. He has found that successful couples have a "magic" ratio of positive to negative interactions - 5:1.  Here he explains this finding briefly in this video:

So remember, your "skills" in communication or relationships are nothing to just having positive interactions with your spouse. Put otherwise, you can have great "skills", but if you are a jerk, your relationship will still suffer. So simple, and so important.

If you want to read more, here is a great book by Dr. Gottman that I highly reccomend.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.
-Leo Tolstoy

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Quick thought on technology

I love technology. I couldn't live without my cell phone or my laptop. But our modern technologies that keep us so connected with the world tend to make us less connected with our families.  Too often I see time at home filled with TV shows, surfing the internet, and chatting on the phone. Couples on dates are often both on their phones with other people, texting, or even posting to facebook about their date instead of being on the date! When you are there with your spouse, BE THERE with your spouse.  Turn off your cell phone.  Stay off the computer.  Eyes on your spouse, not on a screen.  Listen, talk, laugh, hold hands. Be deliberate about your technology and don't let it lead your life. Email will still be there after you spend time together. Voicemail works and you can check it later. Texts don't disappear. Status updates can wait. On those special times together, and at least an hour daily at home, turn your attention towards each other and away from screens and keyboards. Electronics don't care if you pay attention to them or not, but your spouse does.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Marriage, like a submarine, is only safe if you get all the way inside.
-Frank Pittman

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Finding Balance

So many people understand that it is important to find balance in your life, but many people misunderstand how it works.  Some people seem to think it means doing a little of everything each day.  Others think it means dedicating equal amounts of time to each area of your life, such as work, play, family, spirituality, friends, hobbies, etc.

These people are wrong.

Have you ever tried to balance a broom on one finger? If not, give it a try.  You will find that it takes movement of your finger, hand, arm, and sometimes your whole body from side to side to keep it balanced.  Sometimes it is fine adjustments.  Sometimes when it starts to lean too far one way you must really swing wide to keep it from falling over. This is how balance in life looks. It is not a scale where you just make each side the same weight.  It is not about making all of our piles look the same.  It is about adjustment and adaptation.

If you went to college you probably noticed that you had to spend more time on school work than other things to do well.  If you have ever had a newborn baby, you probably got less sleep and spent more time changing diapers than you ever imagined possible.  These are the necessary swings and adjustments we need to make to keep things in balance in our lives. There will be times when we have to maximize our work time and minimize our play time to make ends meet.  There will be times where we have to minimize our work time to take care of a loved one or to handle a crisis.  And if your marriage is in trouble, you will need to devote a great deal of time to your marriage and less time to other areas of your life. 

Far too often I will meet with a couple in my office, they will work really hard on their marriage, but by the time they get home they have gone back to life as usual and will only devote extra energy towards their relationship when back in session.  Some even do this in the name of balance. "I have to keep doing this or that to keep my life in balance!"  If the broom is falling over, you have to move your hand quickly and often far in one direction to keep it from falling, to bring it in balance.  If your marriage is falling over, you have to shift your energy to your marriage from other places, or it will fall to the ground.  That is how to keep balance.

So I would suggest, if your marriage is falling down, do not look to balance your life, to make sure you are covering all your bases and living a well rounded existence, move quickly, deliberately, and intensely to fix the problem before it comes crashing down. And don't stop adjusting and making corrective moves in your marriage. If you hold your hand still, the broom will fall.  

So go grab a broom, place it on your finger, and balance.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.  
-Mignon McLaughlin