10 Secrets of Super Happy Couples

My web browser is MSN.  Recently it featured a story out of Women’s Health Magazine.  I thought some of the ideas were pretty good and decided to share.

10 Secrets of Super Happy Couples

BY SHEILA MONAGHAN February 26, 2014

Pretend you just met.
Whether you’ve been together for six months or six years, spend some time each day acting as if you just started dating. Ask him what he thought of that TV episode or share what you’d do if you won the lottery. “Over time, couples stop asking those exploratory, get-to-know-you questions because they think they already understand each other,” says Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great. But because we all continue to change and develop, little daily check-ins like this are what keep the connection growing, according to Orbuch’s research of 373 pairs. Chat about something besides the daily grind—at least for a bit.

Nurture your friends’ relationships.
You might divorce-proof your own. According to researchers, the breakup of a close pal’s marriage increases your odds of splitting by as much as 75 percent. “Some people may see another’s divorce as permission to change their own life,” says study coauthor Rose McDermott, Ph.D. But when you encourage friends to stay together (happily), you may generate reasons that also apply to your bond.

Burn bras (together).
Forget flowers—feminism is the new romance, say experts at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Women whose male partner is a feminist report better relationship quality, while men with feminist partners experience more sexual satisfaction and relationship stability. “A male feminist partner may increase a woman’s ability to realize her own goals and career ambitions,” says study author Laurie Rudman, Ph.D. “And male feminists are probably not threatened by their partner’s strivings.” Plus, these women may be more likely to initiate sex, and no guy will complain about that.

Don’t win an Oscar.
That is unless you’d like to thank the academy for ruining your relationship. A Best Actress winner is 63 percent more likely to have her marriage end before her category mates do, say researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Toronto. (And it’s not an honor just to be nominated either: Sixty percent of all nominees, male or female, experience at least one divorce after getting a nod.) While the breakup rate might seem like celebrity hogwash, the findings may speak to an underlying social norm: Sudden one-sided success can put a strain on a romantic partnership. “The increased rate of divorce may be due to a husband’s discomfort with his wife’s success,” says study author Colleen Stuart, Ph.D. “On the other hand, the wife may grow dissatisfied with her current marital arrangement because she now has the confidence and opportunity to move away from a bad relationship.” Try to remain a power couple: Encourage and celebrate each other’s successes, big and small.

Tweet responsibly.
According to a survey of 100,000 people from OkCupid.com, avid tweeters tend to have shorter relationships—10 percent shorter, on average—than those who don’t microblog. “Having your eyes glued to a smartphone screen isn’t exactly conducive to romance,” says Hatt. Be sure your tendency toward technology (tweets, texts, and otherwise) doesn’t take up time better spent engaging in heart-to-heart communication with your guy.

Hold a grudge (as long as he doesn’t).
Provided that your partner is able to bounce back from spats, you’ll experience greater satisfaction, even if you tend to stay P.O.’d, according to recent research. The mark of a good recovery: You don’t allow conflicts about one issue—say, money—to spill over into other areas of your relationship, such as how you help each other after a tough day, says study author Jessica E. Salvatore, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota. A yang to your yin yields harmony.

Control the boozing.
Any relationship will be shaken and stirred by too much alcohol, but research suggests that young adults who drink heavily (meaning four or more drinks on one occasion for women; five or more for guys) are less likely to wed in the first place and may be at greater risk for early separation if they do. Partyers may be more likely to have commitment issues to begin with, and once they couple up their bonds may be unstable. “If you’re going to be in a solid intimate partnership, you’re going to need all the good judgment and compassion you can muster,” says Hatt. Which means keeping the drinking in check.

Be the beauty to his beast.
Coupling up with an average Joe (with a beer belly) may be the key to long-term love. According to a study in the Journal of Family Psychology, when men were married to more attractive women, they seemed more likely to step up to the plate, says study author Benjamin R. Karney, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of California at Los Angeles. “But when husbands were better-looking, they didn’t seem as engaged in helping their wives achieve their goals.” (Size matters too: When women had a lower BMI than their guy, both partners tended to be more satisfied, according to other research.) The real secret to success? Support. Whether you’re motivated by a gorgeous face or some other quality, couples are more likely to enjoy long-run happiness when they’re invested in each other’s welfare.

Limit the chick flicks.
If Jennifer Aniston and Ashton Kutcher regularly appear in your living room, your union could be in the danger zone. “Romantic comedies can set up unreasonable expectations, which may lead to unnecessary suffering,” says Sean Patrick Hatt, Ph.D., a psychologist in Seattle. “Comparing yourselves with idealized others is a recipe for misery.” Sure, rom-coms can be feel-good escapes, but they may also promote magical thinking about relationships. For example, as partnerships mature and the initial intensity tends to fade, many couples try to recapture the euphoria they had in the beginning, says Hatt. “And that sort of thinking is only reinforced by Hollywood endings,” he adds. Stocking your Netflix queue? Treat the rom-coms as, well, treats.

Twist the sheets at least once a week.
The average American gets busy about two or three times a month, but increasing your romps to once a week generates as much bliss as scoring an extra $50,000 in income, according to researchers from Dartmouth College and the University of Warwick in England. It’s not so much the sex itself that leads to happiness; the frequency is a better marker for a successful relationship. “Couples who like each other end up in bed more often,” says study author Andrew J. Oswald, Ph.D. “And it’s the liking-each-other part that increases joy.” But seriously, who needs a reason? Bank on more booty.

Is This Really Fight-Worthy?

“The next time you’re about to freak over his not remembering your coworker’s name again, as yourself this question:  Will you give a crap one year from now?  A new study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science found that this ‘future thinking’ trick made people less likely to blame their partners during an argument and more likely to forgive them after the fight.  The authors reason that pausing a moment to gain some perspective when you’re miffed can prevent the heat of the moment from clouding your mind (and filling your mouth with words you can’t take back).  And, since you’re seeing the future in a better light, you may expect your bond to get stronger over time, which (yay!) can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”  — Women’s Health Magazine, November 2016

This is a very short article from Women’s Health Magazine (November 2016).  When I read interesting articles, I’ll post them in my waiting room.  Those that get a lot of positive comments, I’ll then post them on my blog.  This one has gotten a lot of praise.

Basically it says, when mad at your partner about something, will it matter in one year, or month, or week.  Good question; it helps to put in perspective what we say to our loved one.

What it doesn’t address is the cumulative effect of relationships; that tendency for many small issues to accumulate…..and then some small issue comes up, the dam breaks, and the fight is on.  How do you address the cumulative effect?  Address small issues as they come up.

This may sound circular but the overall point is that before we speak, we try to calm ourselves and think about the words we use.

Post-Divorce Issues

I never knew there was so much to divorce until I got divorced!  Now, that may be a terrible thing to say, as a therapist but it is honest.  I have learned SO much about life, relationships and living since my divorce; and I bring that to those I now work with seeking help after a divorce.

When I am working with someone who is seeking assistance living post-divorce, I encourage them to examine (and redefine) their thoughts about divorce, who gets divorced and how they see themselves. Personally, I believe, as a result of my divorce,  I am a better potential partner now (than before divorcing). In the same way now, I strive to help others learn from their divorce and start a new life.

Another constant issue presenting itself in my office in this area is how to parent post-divorce. This is a sensitive issue. It involves helping either person see situations from both perspectives (yours and theirs) and deciding what to do in the future that is best for the children (first) and yourself. Difficult work…but very possible.

Related issues includes responding to your children’s relationship with the other parent (despite your personal feelings), your ex-spouse beginning to date and exposing your children to these individuals, working with your ex-spouse to get your children to activities/events, etc. Again, difficult topics but manageable.

Another VERY challenging issue is dating/marriage post-divorce.

If ever there was an issue that demands that you have a good sense of who you are, this is it. I have realized, through my own work, that I needed to know who I am before I can decide what I want in my life. This is essential if relationships post-divorce is going to be satisfying, nurturing, sustaining.


Divorce….How to Decide

This is a common issue presented in my office.

Our society has misled us into believing good marriages… just happen.  They don’t.  They are created…by the people in them. Marriage is about negotiation and cooperation.  Young people don’t understand this and consequently, are set up for failure.

So when working with a couple, I explore the nature of their differences, their beliefs and childhood models for being married and making decisions.  Frequently, differences are about control in the relationship; direct control, indirect control and more importantly, if/how the coordinate such.

I explore their history of problems and ability to work through these problems in their relationship.  If the couple lacks basic conflict resolution skills and has no history of peaceful existence together, the odds are against them.

I look at what each thinks they and their partner should do in the relationship and if they are actually willing to do this. Going back to my original comment…marriage is about negotiation and cooperation.  Most people entering therapy expect their partner to do all the changing. This is unrealistic.

I talk….and encourage them to talk, to each other, about the problems they are having and their individual perspectives on these problems.  THIS IS DIFFICULT TO DO…especially while trying to remain calm, listening to your partner, understanding their perspective and yet asserting your position/needs and working toward a compromise.

There are other divorce specific exercises that I will suggest when necessary, i.e., The Divorce Pro/Con List. These are completed individually and the discussed, individually and as a couple.

In more extreme cases, I will discuss a “structured separation”; the couple living apart but evaluating one or more aspects of relationship together as they continue in therapy, talk on a regular basis and together meet all their responsibilities.


A List of 100 Questions to Ask Your Partner on Date Nights

Pulled from the website:  lifehack.org/communication

Article by:  Samantha Rodman

Date nights for established couples can feel boring and stale if you talk about the same old topics all the time. Talking about work, the kids, or household repairs should not be the primary focus of nights when you’re trying to reconnect as a couple. So, here is a list of 100 — yes, 100 — questions that you can choose from to ask each other on your next dinner out.

Use only two to three questions per date night, and really talk about the answers in depth. They range across various domains, including romance, intimacy, family, career, and many others. The point is to get to know your partner on a deep level all over again. This will increase your feelings of closeness, connection, and romance, which we all know is the whole point of date night!

100 Questions to Ask Your Partner on Date Nights

  1. What is your favorite memory of dating me?
  2. What is your favorite sexual memory of us?
  3. What food reminds you of me?
  4. When was the last time you thought about me in a positive way?
  5. What is your favorite thing that I do for you?
  6. What movie reminds you of us?
  7. Which of your parents are you most like?
  8. Which of our kids are most like you? (or if you aren’t parents yet: Do you ever picture having kids?)
  9. What’s my best physical feature?
  10. What do you like most that I do in bed?
  11. What’s your favorite time of day to be intimate?
  12. Do you like kissing or hugging more?
  13. When did you know you wanted to be monogamous with me?
  1. Do you ever get jealous if you see me talking to other attractive people?
  2. Do you ever dream about me?
  3. What do you think we need to work on the most in our relationship?
  4. If you got sick, do you think I would be there to care for you?
  5. Do you believe that I love you?
  6. When did you know you wanted to kiss me?
  7. What’s your favorite non-sex activity that we do together?
  8. As a child, did you trust both of your parents?
  1. What is your favorite thing I ever did for a special occasion for you?
  2. What is your favorite sexual fantasy?
  3. What is your favorite sexual position?
  4. Do you ever think about me sexually during the day?
  5. What is something I could do to make you trust me even more?
  6. When do you feel the most protected and taken care of?
  7. What can I do to make sure you feel safe with me?
  8. When we hang out with friends, do I make you feel like you’re still my priority?
  9. When we are with my family, do I make you feel like you’re still my priority?
  10. Do you have any deal-breakers, things that would make you seriously reconsider our relationship?
  1. What was the very first thing you thought about me?
  2. When did you first think I was attractive?
  3. How long do you think people should wait before having kids?
  4. What did you learn about marriage from your parents?
  5. What did you learn about physical affection from your parents?
  6. What is your favorite book?
  7. What is your favorite song?
  8. What was your first favorite movie, as a child?
  9. What do you want to do when you retire?
  10. Do you ever picture having grandchildren?
  11. What’s another career that you think you would love?
  12. What’s your favorite physical feature of your own?
  13. Who was your favorite teacher when you were a child?
  14. What’s your favorite memory with your mom?
  15. What’s your favorite memory with your dad?
  16. Which significant other before me had the biggest impact on you?
  17. What did you think after your first sexual experience?
  18. Did you like high school or college better?
  19. Where have you always wanted to travel?
  20. Did you ever consider a totally different career path?
  21. What was your favorite class in high school?
  22. What was the best party you ever went to?
  23. What’s the happiest you ever felt?
  24. What’s the most anxious you ever felt?
  25. What’s the angriest you ever felt?
  26. Do you believe in God?
  27. What’s a question you’ve never asked me?
  28. What’s your favorite personality trait of your own?
  29. Which of your personality traits do you wish you could change?
  30. Have you ever gotten really obsessed with some topic?
  31. Did you collect stuff as a child?
  32. Which of your parents did you go to when you wanted to talk?
  33. What’s the most scared you ever felt, as a child?
  34. What’s the accomplishment you are most proud of?
  35. Where do you want to be living in 10 years?
  36. Which of your friends would you choose if you had to be on a desert island with just one?
  37. Which of your friends is most like you?
  38. What do you think about couples who are married but live in different cities?
  39. What do you think about couples who own a business together and spend all their time together?
  40. Which would you like most: a summer house, a year-long vacation, or a boat?
  41. What would you do with a million dollars?
  42. What would you do with an extra $1,000 to spend only on yourself?
  43. When you were a kid, did you feel that you fitted in?
  44. What was your favorite subject in middle school?
  45. Did you go through puberty before or after everyone else, or right on time?
  46. Who was your first crush?
  47. Who was your first kiss?
  48. Who was the first person to have a crush on you?
  49. Do you think of yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?
  50. If you could go back in time, what age would you be again?
  51. If you could see into the future, what would you want to know?
  52. What’s your greatest talent?
  53. What is your most unique trait?
  54. What makes me different from the other people you’ve been with?
  55. What is the best thing about our relationship?
  56. Do you ever compare yourself to other guys/girls?
  57. Which of my friends do you think is the most fun?
  58. Are you an optimist, a pessimist, or a realist?
  59. When you wake up in the middle of the night, what do you think about?
  60. If you had to change one thing about yourself, what would you pick?
  61. Do you think I’m more of an optimist, a pessimist, or a realist?
  62. As a teenager, did you ever rebel against your parents?
  63. Who’s the closest person to you in your extended family?
  64. Did you ever want more or fewer siblings?
  65. How did you siblings shape who you are?
  66. What was your favorite date night we ever had?
  67. What are your secret thoughts when you see me at the end of the day?
  68. Do you ever wish I could read your mind? When?
  69. What things about me make you know I’m the one for you?

Whew! That was a long list. Now go make reservations, and there is no excuse if you end up talking about the cat vomiting on the rug.



Choosing Wrong

The following is part of a transcript of an interview from the radio show, This American Life, hosted by Ira Glass.  Originally aired on June 24, 2016, Mr. Glass interviews Alain De Botton, author of many books and articles including, “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person”, and “How We End Up Marrying the Wrong Person”.  Mr. De Botton has many interesting thoughts about marriage; harsh realities about marriage that, I think, would help all of us struggling with our primary relationships.


Ira Glass

Well, it’s June. Weddings everywhere, brides in white, little three-year-old nieces sent waddling down aisles throwing rose petals, vows that go on, perhaps a bit too long.

Ira Glass

And how many of these happy couples are actually, underneath all of it, mismatched?

Alain De Botton

A huge number. It’s frightening going to weddings.

Ira Glass

Meet Alain de Botton, author of articles with titles like “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person”, and “How We End Up Marrying the Wrong Person”, and two books about love. I was interested in talking to him because our radio show today is about making wrong choices. And he believes that when it comes to making the single most important decision many of us ever make in our lives, it is incredibly easy to screw it up– much easier than we generally acknowledge.

Alain De Botton

You know, some of the reason why we marry the wrong people is that we don’t really understand ourselves. I mean, sometimes I say to people, do you think you’re easy to live with? People who are single. And the ones who say, yeah, yeah, I’m pretty easy to live with, it’s just a question of finding the right person, massive alarm bell rings in my mind.

Ira Glass

He says the problem is that it is not until we are actually married that we’re in a situation where all the ways that we are hard to live with are truly revealed. All of our neuroses and flaws, all the tiny little things that vaguely remind us of our childhoods, and thus trigger peculiar and inappropriate behavior towards those we live with, that’s what gets revealed by the marriage itself. Even if you lived together before marriage, he says, it’s not the same. It doesn’t give you that self-knowledge.

Alain De Botton

And so we go into marriage unable to convey that knowledge to a partner. We don’t understand them. They don’t understand us. We don’t understand what marriage is. Let’s stress that.

Ira Glass

So what would you say to all the people getting married this month? What would you tell them?

Alain De Botton

Be incredibly forgiving for the weird behavior that’s going to start coming out. You will be very unhappy in lots of ways. Your partner will fail to understand you.

If you’re understood in maybe, I don’t know, 60% of your soul by your partner, that’s fantastic. Don’t expect that it’s going to be 100%. Of course you will be lonely.

You will often be in despair. You will sometimes think it’s the worst decision in your life. That’s fine. That’s not a sign your marriage has gone wrong.

It’s a sign that it’s normal, it’s on track. And many of the hopes that took you into the marriage will have to die in order for the marriage to continue. That some of the headiness and expectations will have to die.


Most of all–

Ira Glass

I’m laughing because this is so dark.

Alain De Botton

It’s very dark. But in love, darkness is a real friend of relationships. Because so many of the problems of love come from unwarranted optimism. And so we need to be dark about so many things.

Ira Glass

OK, I’m going to stop the tape right there and come in to say, I know he’s going on a little bit here. And by the way, mazel tov to everybody getting married this month. But I’m a married person. And OK, just speaking for myself, I find this tear that he’s on to be one of the most accurate descriptions of marriage I’ve ever heard– no judging please– and also, in its own way, kind of hopeful. But we’ll get to that. Anyway, back to the tape.

Alain De Botton

Let me say, you’ll have noticed that I’ve got a British accent. Now, Britain doesn’t do many things well. We fail at a lot of things. But one of the things we excel at– perhaps almost on an international scale– is melancholy. We do melancholy really well. The weather helps.

And I think that there are aspects of a good marriage that should encompass a kind of melancholy, as we realize that we’re trying to do such a complex thing with someone. We are trying to find our best friend, our ideal sexual partner, our co-household manager, perhaps our co-parent. And we’re expecting that all this will miraculously go well together. Of course it can. We’re not going to be able to get it all right. There will be many areas of misunderstanding and failure. And a certain amount of sober melancholy is a real asset when heading forth into the land of love.

Ira Glass

And so to sum up, he says we choose the wrong spouse because we don’t actually understand what marriage is really going to be like. Because we do not know ourselves. And in addition, we idealize our spouse. We make hasty choices about who we’ll marry because being single can be so unpleasant. And because, rather than analyzing and thinking all those things through, instead we just follow our feelings. We go on gut. We go on instinct. Which, to Alain’s way of thinking, is obviously inadequate to the task at hand.

Alain De Botton

I mean, imagine if I said I’m going to try to land a 777 tomorrow, I’m going to touch down at San Francisco airport by intuition. Or if I said I’m going to perform quite a complicated surgical procedure this afternoon by intuition, sounds mad. Nevertheless, we accept that people are going to say, I’m going to run this major part of my life called my love life by intuition.

Ira Glass

Now, I know that we’ve all heard some of these things, OK? I think every couple now knows that it’s not going be great all the time. Every couple is told it’s going to be hard. You’re going to have to work at it.

But the radical message that Alain de Botton brings is even if you work at it, you’re not going to be that successful. It’s going to be a mix of unhappiness and happiness with way more unhappiness than you think before you get married. And a good partnership is one where both people have realistic expectations about all that.

A good partnership he writes, “Is not so much between two healthy people. There aren’t many of those on the planet. It’s one between two demented people who have had the skill or luck to find a non-threatening conscious accommodation between their relative insanities.” The standard question on an early dinner date he says should be simply, “And how are you crazy?”

Alain De Botton

I mean, relationships markedly improve when two people can make almost a blanket avowal– we’re both kind of crazy.

Ira Glass

You’re married, right?

Alain De Botton

I’m married.

Ira Glass

What’s your wife say about all this?

Alain De Botton

Look, she’s very funny. She’s a pessimistic realist. On our 10th wedding anniversary, she dressed in black. And she said, it was a funeral for many of her hopes. So she’s quite dark too. But we’re actually very hopeful about the course of love.

Ira Glass

And in your marriage, did you both go through a process of entering the marriage with one idea, a very idealized idea, of what marriage would be, and then you came to this other idea?

Alain De Botton

Yes. I had absolutely no idea about how to love. I hadn’t had many relationships. And I literally used to think that the only problem, the only difficulty of love was finding this person called the right person.

And they’d come into my life, and then we’d just understand one another totally. We would understand each other without needing to speak. We wouldn’t have any arguments. We wouldn’t have any arguments over money or practicalities. And I think we had a succession of crises and moments of fear, where we really thought we had married the wrong person.

Ira Glass

Is there a more general rule here? Do most of us make mistakes in other huge decisions in our lives because we don’t know ourselves?

Alain De Botton

The other area where we make major bad decisions based on a lack of self-knowledge– and it’s exactly the same principle– is work. Work and love, and the two very similar. Because in both areas, we abandon the field totally to intuition. You’re supposed to find your work by a kind of special calling, by a special pull. And in fact, in order to find a job that you can love, you have to understand so much about yourself, your own character, your own nature, let alone the world of work itself.


Realities about Newlyweds and Marriage

Realities about Newlyweds and Marriage, Part 1.


  1. Dating and Marriage are two TOTALLY different things; despite the fact that

dating leads to marriage.


  1. Dating is about presenting yourself in the best possible light in hopes of attracting

a mate.  The focus is impressing the other person.


  1. Marriage is about living together and addressing the realities of life…work, kids,

laundry, dishes, etc. The focus is life; doing life’s work with the other person.


  1. Our society tells people marriage is an extension of dating; a continuation of

impressing the other person. This is not true.


  1. Our society also tells people that a true sign of dating the right person and a

Good marriage is frequent and mind-blowing sex. This is also not true.


  1. We marry as much for love as for familiarity. We learned a “dance” from our

family about how relationships work; typically from our parents.  We then (unconsciously) seek out the same type of person when we married (even though we may have said we would never be like either one or both our parents).


  1. Your partner didn’t tell you everything about their past. Neither did you.

You had reasons for not telling them…you were trying to attract them.

Your partner has the same reason… they were trying to attract you.


  1. You will find out those hidden things about your partner as time goes on, after

you are married. There is no way to discover those things BEFORE you



  1. Some of the things you will find out about your partner will be bad. You will feel

betrayed by your partner. You may resent your partner for this.









Realities about Newlyweds and Marriage, Part 2.


  1. When you say, “I do.”, you agree to a lot of unknown things… besides that

you will have sex only with your partner and live the rest of your life with



  1. Consequently, if ONE of you has a problem, you BOTH have a problem.


  1. You will need to make changes to be happily married. Your partner will need to

make changes also.


  1. You two will not change at the same rate… at the same time…or for the same



5 . You cannot make your partner change.  You can ask them to change but you

can’t make them change.


  1. If you make your partner change (against their will), you lose…as far as the

relationship is concerned. Your partner will resent you.


  1. After the first 12 months, look at your partner. That is the way, basically, they

will be for the duration of your relationship. Can you live with that? Your

partner will look at you after the first 12 months and conclude you are the

way you are and will be asking themselves, “Can I live with this?”.


  1. Your partner will have their own particular peculiarities. If you want to be with

them,  you will have to accommodate these peculiarities.  If you have married another person, they would have their own peculiarities and you would have to accommodate them if you want to be married to them. Your partner will have to accommodate your peculiarities also.


  1. Marriage is more about cooperation and negotiation then love. Love is what

started the process.  Love keeps the two together as they are cooperating

and negotiating.  Research shows the couples have the same opinions on

different issues only 35% of the time. They have to negotiate the other 65%

of the time.


  1. Look at marriage like business. Customer service counts in business; “please”,

“thank you”, doing extra to get the customer to come back. It is the same in



Realities about Newlyweds and Marriage, Part 3.


Ladies, stop taking care of others so much.  Start taking care of yourself as much as

your husband. You’ll be happier and he’s less likely to take you for granted.


He will never want to do housework.  He should/may/will do it but he will never want to do it. Nor will he do housework exactly how you would do it.

His way of doing housework is just as legitimate as your way. But, it is helpful

if you two can agree on some standards for completing a job.


Stop being “hurt” by the things he says or does. Men, in general, don’t under-

stand “hurt”. They understand consequences.  Tell him how you feel

about what he said or did, expect (and demand if necessary) an apology,

be clear about consequences for such behavior in the future and follow

through. Being “hurt” too much makes you sound like a victim.


If you begin to cry during a fight, don’t leave or feel bad because

you cried.  That is what women’s bodies are geared to do when upset…cry.

Men’s bodies are geared to get mad or do something when we get upset. If you cry, either talk through it or take a minute and calm yourself and go right back to your point. If you leave because you cry, you’ll be mad at yourself because you’ll think you look weak and he will either resent you because he’ll think he made you cry and will feel like a heartless jerk or think he “won” the fight.


Control your emotions and nagging.  Emotional drama confuses men and we

Will avoid you…which is exactly what you don’t want. Further, nagging makes us feel weak and we respond with anger, which is also what you don’t want. If

you ask him to do something and he agrees; if he fails to do it, address it

directly and without attitude in your voice, i.e., “You said you were going to take the trash out. You didn’t. When are you going to do it?”. Women often

ask, “But won’t I sound like a bitch if I say that?”. You might but you will

sound like a bitch if you nag. Second, you have been called a bitch before AND YOU DID NOT DIE. Third, “bitch” is a name others call you.  You have very little control over what others say or do. It is better if you decide if you are a bitch versus try to make other not call you a bitch. Fourth, there is a difference between being assertive and being a bitch.  Above is an example of being assertive, not a bitch.


He is not a woman:  He will never understand your logic, your view of the world, how situations and emotions effect you or guess what you want. Stop

expecting him to be as accommodating as you are, see it “your way” first or

know what you want (without being told…specifically). As a group, we need

a lot of training…. “please”, “thank you”, holding the door, etc. TRAIN HIM.

Feel OK about telling him, “We are going to say “please” and “thank you” in

this marriage.” We are a lot like dogs…we want to please you, are scared of

you and typically respond positively to praise and reinforcement. And yes,

that means giving him sex (when he treats you well) AND  something like,

“Thank you. I feel so loved when you do _____ for me.”, or “I feel so proud

to be with you when you do _____ for me.”.


Don’t ask him if you look fat in this or that outfit.  You know the answer to

that question and if not, ask a girlfriend.


Guys, stop insisting on getting your way with everything.


If you want sex, you have to:


be nice to her (manners, politeness


apologize (and mean it) when you mess up,


LISTEN to her,


accept the fact that she doesn’t always know what she wants

and will resent you if you force her to choose,


tolerate her moods when she is on her period and


initiate sex, 99% of the time.


Marriage is not a bus ride.  You are an active participant in the relationship. You must be in the front passenger seat, giving directions, discussing the trip,

asking how she wants to get there, etc. And yes, she will probably ask you to






You HAVE to talk about your thought, feelings, hopes and dreams, how

your day was (even if it was the same as yesterday) and ask her, each night,

how her day was AND remember what she said yesterday about her day.


Don’t beg for sex and stop humping her leg when she says “No” and don’t

grope her breast.  WOMEN HATE THIS!!!!!!!! Yes, breasts are amazing and it is hard to understand why they don’t want to do something (like have sex) that

makes you feel so wonderful but if you persist when she says “No”, she

is less likely to say “Yes” later. And let’s face it, they can go MUCH longer

without sex than we can.


Most women don’t care how long your penis is or how muscular you are (This

is not to say that it’s ok to be out of shape. They want you to be reasonably in shape.). They want you to be a gentleman and treating her like a lady.


Believe it or not, most women are trying to please you in what they do.  Look

for that in what she does.  In this sense, they are much more honorable then we are.




Both of you…don’t call each other names, break your partner’s possessions, hit or

manipulate each other or threaten divorce.


Often, when a women recalls something he said or did, her recall is skewed by the

emotions she has by what was said/done.  Men, in general, have a difficult time remembering what they said or did and most don’t consider how, what they said or did, will effect others. Neither way is “wrong”; both ways are



You two can (and will) look at the same thing and see it differently.  Both views are

accurate AND incomplete.


When recalling conversations, you will forget (important) things that were said. This

is worse during a fight. So, be cautious of what you think your partner said.


Preface your comments… “I’m not trying to pick a fight but…you did promise to

visit my mother’s this weekend (instead of going hunting).” This is SO

important.  It let’s your partner know you are sensitive to them when you

have potentially upsetting news to share.


It is possible to have a “blow-up” and the next moment, act respectful to one another.

This is common but should be infrequent and needs to be explored by the

couple.  It is similar to the “check engine” light coming on momentarily

on your car dash.  You should have it checked out.

11 Secrets Men Keep from Women

I came across this on my internet browser homepage; “11 Secrets Men Keep from Women“. I included only 9. It’s a good list. I’ve talked with women (girlfriends, wives) about such issues before in sessions.

1. “I need you to make me feel like a big, strong man.”
Your husband may feel insecure if his masculine qualities, like physical strength, never impress you. “This isn’t the ’50s anymore, but there are still some genetically determined pieces of men’s self worth,” says marriage therapist Mike Dow, PsyD. Since he’ll feel even less like a tough guy divulging this need for extra attention, he’ll stay mum. So compliment his brawn – even if it’s just for popping the lid off the jam jar. Also, give him a chance to assemble that dresser before offering your expertise. Dr. Dow says if you take charge instead of letting him take care of it, he’ll feel emasculated.

2. “Mum’s the word.”
Ever feel like your opinionated hubby’s holding something back? Men aren’t naturally gifted at expressing themselves like women, so they may keep quiet about sensitive subjects. But those secrets can cause marriage problems. “If it’s safe for him to speak honestly, that might improve his experience in the relationship,” says clinical psychologist Andra Brosh, PhD. I’ll tell women, two things in this area: ask him nicely without attitude, what he is thinking about a topic you are talking to him about, if he is quiet; watch your reaction to his comments, the more emotional you become the less likely he is to talk. The emotional drama scares men; they feel confused with what to do or say, if you cry or yell; they feel manipulated.

3. “Yes, I was checking out that woman.”
The male brain is hardwired to notice pretty young things, since they’re likely to be fertile and capable of producing healthy children, says Dr. Dow. In fact, your hubby’s head may turn before his brain realizes! Call him out for ogling or flirting, but let him off the hook for the occasional quick glance. “His brain is closer to an animal’s than yours,” explains Dr. Dow. “As long as you’re the person he dotes on, sleeps with and adores, that 25-year-old has nothing on you.”

4. “It’s not that you look fat in that dress, they just all look the same to me.”
Distant sights may register easily for him – “his hunter brain needed to target animals far away to bring home dinner a few thousand years back,” says Dr. Dow – but he isn’t attuned to finer, up-close details. To him, the blue dress looks just like the red one you tried on. If he stumbles through a response about your outfit when you ask what he thinks, don’t read into it. “If he married you, it’s because he thinks you’re beautiful,” says Dr. Dow. “He wants you to wear whatever dress you like best.”

5. “Making love is great, but let’s just have sex on occasion.”
When it comes to doing the deed, men are microwaves and women are slow cookers, says Dr. Dow. “Your female brain is swimming in oxytocin, which gives you a peaceful high throughout the day, but men’s testosterone depresses oxytocin production but he gets a big oxytocin dose right after an orgasm,” says Dr. Dow. While he enjoys the romance of making love, sometimes he’d prefer to get to the big O faster. It’s tough for him to delicately explain this, so if he’s normally eager to please you, return the favor every now and then with a mind-blowing quickie.

6. “I have particular sexual fantasies.”
Whether it’s innocent or risque, he probably won’t make these most private wishes known – but not because he wants to keep them to himself. “Many men have a difficult time communicating what they prefer in bed, ” says Charles J. Orlando, author of The Problem with Women…is Men. “He might want it, but doesn’t know how to ask or let you know.” Help him by sharing one of your fantasies, Orlando suggests. “Nothing like showing your vulnerability to encourage him to do the same.”

7. “Sometimes I’d rather you be quiet.”
Although you’re perfectly capable of listening to him while you’re relaxing, he can’t multitask as well. “The male brain is more linear, moving from task to task,” says Dr. Dow. Plus, “communicating at work all day exhausts his brain more than yours.” But admitting he needs alone time as you spill your office problem doesn’t seem supportive, so he doesn’t bring it up. Try giving him some space when he comes home. Once he’s had the chance to unwind, “conversation will come more easily for him,” says Dr. Dow. It will be more enjoyable for you too.

8. “I lie to keep the peace.”
If he doesn’t know what’ll set you off, he may fib to avoid a potential confrontation. “If we get that this secrecy is about fear, we can be more compassionate and help our mate with his anxieties., says couples therapist Sue Johnson, PhD, author of Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love. If he messes up and “fesses up’, take a deep breath and address it without getting angry. And if you do fight, tell him after that you nevertheless appreciate his honesty. (see #2)

9.  “We’re struggling financially.”
Men equate financial stability with their provider skills: The more unstable things are, the more he feels like he’s failed as a provider. “If he’s making less than he used to and the bills aren’t able to be paid, he might hide it,” says Orlando. “He may not want to look at himself, much less look poorly in your eyes.” While losing his job is too big of a secret to keep, he may not divulge exactly how much is going out and coming in. “Stay involved in the finances, so life’s curve balls don’t surprise you,” Orlando advises. “And let him know regularly that you love him – not the cash that comes in.”

Ted’s (Painful, Expensive, but Otherwise Perfect) Divorce….

This is an article from Men’s Health (April 2016).  While it is a view of divorce ONLY from the man’s side, it brings up a number of good ideas, both about marriage and about divorce.

Article written by:  Laurence Roy Stains

“In two out of three breakups, the woman decides to call it quits.  So it was for poor Ted, who thought his wife was happy.”

When does a marriage go bad?  It may be different for each couple, but I’ll tell you this:  The wife usually knows first.  Maybe, while lying in bed staring at the ceiling at 2 a.m., she thinks, This isn’t love.  This is going nowhere.  This is not what I signed up for.  Meanwhile her husband sleeps in sweet oblivion.  Such was the case for Ted and Sarah.  They’re a real couple, and this is their story.  (I’ve changed the names and some details to protect their privacy.)  You’ll be surprised how much the narrative of one divorce can reveal about millions of others.  But first let’s hear their saga.  How they went from hot to cold.  How it all unraveled – for Ted, anyway – on a Friday night after dinner.


Just before dinner, Sarah says, “When the kids go down, I need to talk to you about something.”

And Ted thinks, Okay.  He has no idea how profoundly his life is about to change.  Maybe you’d be clueless too.  Picture yourself standing outside their house that night.  Through the kitchen window would appear a cozy scene:  a family of four sitting around the breakfast nook of their four-bedroom colonial in a gentrified neighborhood of major Sun Belt city.  Nothing to see here.

It isn’t until an hour later, when the kids are in bed, that Sarah tracks Ted down and asks, with more urgency this time, “Can you come upstairs for a moment?”

He heads up to their bedroom and stands at the left side of their queen-sized bed.  She follows him through the door and faces him from across the bed.  She looks at him and drops the bomb; “I can’t be married to you anymore.”

Ted sits on the bed.  He leans against their headboard made from a salvaged wooden door.  At that moment he could practically hear it slamming shut.  A wave of nausea sweeps over him.  “Is there someone else?”

“No! There’s not!”  She resents him for asking this, just as she’s resented so many things he’s said over their 10 years together.  For the next few hours she tell Ted every last thing that was wrong about him and the marriage, every hurtful word, every slight and thoughtless criticism.  When she’s done, they get into that bed together.  She sleeps; Ted doesn’t.  Every hour or so he wakes her with a challenge.

“Do you know what you’re doing?”  Then:  “You’re just mad, right?”

She comes right back at him:  “You never accepted me.  You wanted me to be thinner.  Smarter.  You were so critical.”

“But I’ve changed.  Can’t you see how much less judgmental I’ve been?”

“It’s too late.  I checked out a long time ago.”

At dawn Ted gets up and goes for a long run.  He stays out of the house most of the day.  When he returns, he’s ready for Round Two.  He tries shaming her: “I can’t believe you would abandon the boys.  You’ll wreck their lives.”

She says: “If we’re apart, it will be an improvement for them.  We’re so unkind to each other.”  He tries anger:  “I just cannot believe this!  What is so urgent?”  And she says:  “You can’t believe that I hate you.  You cannot believe that you were just awful to me.  You’ve got to think it’s someone else.”  He tries to negotiate:  “Why don’t we try to give this one more chance?”  And she says something he will never forget:  “You are sick to want to stay married to someone who despises you.”

The biggest study of divorce in America began modestly enough,  Back in 1972, University of Virginia professor E. Mavis Hetherington (who’s now a professor emeritus) followed 72 preschool children to see how they were adapting to their parent’s divorces.  As they grew, so did the study:  By the time Hetherington wrapped it up nearly three decades later, she ad data on 1,400 families.  As it happens, divorce is not usually prompted by men who run off with a coworker, or with anyone else for that matter.  In two out of three divorces, it’s the wife who initiates it.  And one in four men who’ve gone through divorce had no idea their wives were even thinking about leaving.

Are we that dense?  Maybe we’re just playing a different movie in our heads.  We expect to hear the d-word the morning after the big fight.  But here’s what happens:  The skirmishes stop months before the Big Talk, lulling the husband into thinking, That’s good.  We’re not fighting anymore.  Actually, that’s bad.  When she stops fighting, that’s when you want to start worrying.  In her heart, the divorce has already occurred.  Hetherington calls it “the emotional divorce” in her book For Better or for Worse.  It can precede the actual event by months or even years.  The advent of divorce is not war but silence and distance.  Most spouses know when a marriage has been pounded flat.  When women prolong it, the reason is often their financial dependence.  Men tend to hang in for the kids.  For good reason:  Two years after, many men say they feel shut out of their kid’s lives.


Sarah finds Ted his new house, a little 1950’s rancher on a quiet street with a “For Rent” sign on the lawn.  It’s just a few blocks from their present home.  She calls him about it at work.  He drives by, takes a quick tour, and signs a lease.  “It’s not sexy and impressive,” he tells me, but it has what he needs.  There are two bedrooms and a big bathroom with old ceramic tile and a place where his boys can hang their Scooby-Doo toothbrushes.

Yes, it was Sarah who demanded the divorce, but it’s Ted who’s moving.  And not soon enough.  In this short life, nothing is as weird as sleeping in the same bed with a woman who wants you gone.  Ted finds a word to describe it:  “excruciating.”  They had decided that it would be best for the children if Ted moved out.  A month and a week later, he leaves.

That’s when they finally tell their two young sons, Mark and Cameron.  On the first of March, a Saturday morning, they drive the boys over to Ted’s new house.  They all sit down; first Ted tries to explain what is happening, but the breaks down.  Then Sara tries to explain, but she breaks down.  That scares the boys, who start crying too.  Then they get up and go out shopping, like the family they aren’t anymore, and pick out sheets with trains on them for the boys’ new bunk beds at Dad’s house, where they will be sleeping every other weekend from now on.

“March and April were….oh god, I can hardly think about it,” Ted later recalls.  “They were trying to sort it out in their little heads, but they just didn’t understand.”  Then one Saturday night in early April, Mark tells him:  “I like your house and all, but it’s time for you to come home now.”  And Cameron yells:  “I don’t want to see you!  I don’t want to see Mom!  I want to see you and Mom!”  And both boys start begging Ted to come home.  As Ted recalls:  “We got in my bed and we all cried for an hour and a half.”

Throughout the spring, Mark is hurting.  As the older child, he knows more, understands more, suffers more.  He cannot bring himself to say the word “divorce.”  Instead he uses the word “migrate.”  He tell his dad:  “I don’t want to tell my friends at school that you migrated.  I don’t want anybody to know that.”  What exactly do you say to that?  As a father, how can you possibly find words to ease the pain you’re causing your child – especially when you don’t feel like you have control over the situation?  All this time, Ted has been so worried about losing his kids, and meanwhile his kid has been terrified of losing him.  Ted reaches inside himself, and after a minute he tell Mark, “I made a promise to you when you were born that I would be there forever.  And I’m making that promise to you again, right now.”

Ted’s promise to Mark is more than a momentary reassurance.  It has the power to make a major difference in Mark’s life.  A generation ago, such an assertion would have been dismissed by the experts.  The first studies of divorced children seemed to prove that the kids who saw their fathers a lot were as messed up as the kids who never saw Dad’s car in the driveway.  But recent research shows that men are not so dispensable.  Paul Amato, Ph. D., a retired Penn State sociology professor, did an analysis of 63 studies and found that nonresident fathers who engage in “authoritative parenting” improve their children’s lives.  That means helping with homework, talking about the kids’ problems, setting consistent limits, being a good role model, and supporting their accomplishments.  When that happens, kids get higher grades and higher SAT scores.  Fewer of them exhibit symptoms of anxiety and depression.  Above all, far fewer get into trouble.


Ted and I are leaning against the railing, looking down on the pirate ship.  It’s part of the children’s playground where we’ve brought Mark and Cameron today.  Sarah is away for the week, visiting her sister in Michigan.  Ted has taken off a week of work to spend some time with the boys. Outwardly Ted does not seem to be hurting.  Divorce may be the ruination of some men, but with Ted it seems to be an elixir.  He’s 42, and he’s running 30 miles a week.  His waist used to measure a sloppy 36 inches; now it’s a fit-and-trim 31.  With his close-cropped haircut and air of confidence, he’s altogether an attractive guy.  And believe me, the young moms at the playground have noticed.  I watch as a blonde in tight white shorts maneuvers her stroller into his line of sight.  Ted starts to tell me what went wrong in his marriage.  Like all love stories, it had a romantic beginning:  A friend introduced them at a party; there was instant attraction followed by several months of delirious sex.  Within a year and a half they were married.  At first they took ski vacations together.  But a few years into the marriage, they started taking his-and-hers vacations.  She wanted sun and the full spa treatment; he went off to Colorado with his buddies.  The night before every trip, like clockwork, she would pick a fight.  She called him selfish and resented that he was going off without her.  Yet they never made any attempt to plan a vacation together.  Why?  “Pretty simple,” says Ted, “I don’t think we liked being together.”

It’s no big mystery why couples get divorced:  They’ve lost their connection – physically, emotionally, or both.  For more than three decades, researchers have been recording the behaviors of couples and cataloging the many variations of their marital misery.  All couples fight, of course, and we all fight about the same mundane, stupid stuff.  But not surprisingly, among couples headed for divorce, the spouses don’t listen to each other, even if one spouse is talking excitedly about something great that happened that day.  The divorce-prone keep their thoughts to themselves and do not disclose to their partners what they are feeling or thinking.  They have nothing nice to say.  They criticize their spouses more and react more defensively when faced with criticism.  They’re quick to show contempt; a lot of eye-rolling goes on.  Nothing gets resolved in these fights; the bickering escalates into insults.  They are quicker to show anger and slower to pay respect.  All of these behaviors are tough to live with.  Certainly they’d be reason enough to make anyone think about divorce.  But plenty of less-than-happy couples think about splitting; not all of them actually pull the trigger.  Those spouses who do follow through with divorce may have had their commitment to marriage undermined many years before.  Amato has discovered that if both a husband’s and a wife’s parents got a divorce, the odds that they, too, will someday divorce spikes to well over 50 percent.  In that sense Ted, a child of divorce, and Sarah, another child of divorce, were pretty much doomed from the very start.

The November before the breakup, Ted and Sarah had a conversation in the backyard.  Each asked, “Why did you marry me?”  Both where puzzled.  Neither could remember what the attraction was.  They only knew the feeling of being worlds apart.  Ted said, “I never felt connected with you.”  Sarah’s response was, “I stopped loving you years ago.”  Oddly enough, Ted woke up the next morning with fresh determination.  “I felt like we’d put it all out on the table,” he says.  “I thought, ‘Is there anything to work with here?’ My answer was yes.”  It must be a guy thing.  How many men do you know who keep putting up with less in their marriages?  Ted’s response:  “Most guys accept discontent as a normal part of marriage.  They think, ‘I’ve got my wife, I bring home the money, I do the things I need to do.  That’s love.’  Women seem to not accept it.  They’re like, ‘He doesn’t talk to me enough, he doesn’t understand me.  I’m a low priority.'”  This may sound like a sweeping Mars-and-Venus indictment, but there’s truth also.  Howard Markman, PH.D., a researcher at the University of Denver and the coauthor of Fighting for Your Marriage, says, “The biggest mistake men make is avoiding everyday disagreements because they think talking about problems leads to fighting about problems.  And they don’t like to fight, at least in relationships,”  Women, meanwhile, make the mistake of believing that if their mate doesn’t comply with small requests or follow through when he says he’ll do something, he doesn’t care about her.  At some point, the backyard talks and counseling sessions aren’t going to change anything.  Sarah had reached that point, “She was so crystal clear,” says Ted.  “There was no hope.”


Back in May, at the playground, Ted told me that being divorced at 42 “is like being 28 again, only with more money and a better car.”  But he’s since changed his tune:  “I’ve never been poorer in my life.”  He’s paying alimony and child support.  He’s also spent a bunch of money trying to create an instant home.  The small stuff adds up.  “I spent $6000 on sheets and towels and cheese graters.”  He has limited one huge expense:  lawyers.  He and Sarah decided to use a mediator instead.  They went to three sessions and hammered out an agreement; then they took it to their own lawyers for review before it was sent to a judge.  “I went in having no intention of paying alimony and came out paying $2000 a month,” he said.  “As pissed off as I was, I realized that it would definitely affect the kids if I didn’t pay alimony.”  They also traded his equity in the house for her equity in his business.  In the end, they spent about $3000 on a process that could easily have cost tens of thousands of dollars if they had dragged their private pain through the courts.  That legal process is very often friendlier to women than it is to men.  In a study of divorcing couples conducted by psychologist Sanford Braver, Ph. D., the women reported significantly greater satisfaction with their settlements.  They were more likely to get what they wanted, and they felt they controlled the process.  Ted and Sarah were officially divorced on June 12.  Part of the paperwork was a custody agreement, plus every Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 8pm.  They take turns on holidays.  Ted insisted on a clause stipulating that if either party moves more than 25 miles away, the custody agreement will be renegotiated.  “She’s 39,” he says.  “What if she gets desperately lonely?  She’ll marry some fucker in Cincinnati and move away with the kids.”  His instincts were on target.  A move would be bad – for Ted and the kids.  Another of Braver’s studies found more mental and physical health problems among kids with a long-distance parent.  According to the study, they “felt more hostility in their interpersonal relations, suffered more distress related to their parents’ divorce, perceived their parents less favorably as sources of emotional support and as role models, and rated themselves less favorably on their general physical health, general life satisfaction, and personal and emotional adjustment.”  “We want to prevent the separation of the child from one of his or her parents,” Braver says.  “Way too often parents confuse what is good for them with what is good for their children.”  Braver also believes in quantity, not just quality, when it comes to time.  “Every other weekend is not enough,” he says, adding that dads need to have their children at least 35 percent of the time.  Otherwise, it’s hard to be more than just the good-time guy.  Sounds great – but for many men it’s a daydream.  By the time the children in Hetherington’s study reached age 15, the average distance fathers lived from their children was 400 miles.


Shouldn’t Ted be really bitter right about now?  Would you blame him?  I keep waiting for him to rip off the mask and bare some deep resentment.  It doesn’t happen.  Nine months after Sarah pulled the plug, he’s amazingly buddy-buddy with her.  She’ll hand him a leftover casserole.  He’ll help her get a couch upstairs.  He swears their relationship is better now.  “There’s not the baggage of the marriage,” he says.  “She’s not waiting for me to say something that will piss her off.”  As for that evening custody, Tuesdays and Thursdays?  Even though he lives a few minutes away, he routinely goes back to his old house, which is now Sarah’s house, and stays while she goes out with her new boyfriend, Allen.  He puts the boys to bed, and when she comes back, he leaves – or not.  Sometimes he hangs and they talk.  “A lot of people think it’s weird,” says Ted.  But in a year of overwhelming change, he wants his children’s lives to be as consistent as possible.  “In a way, I have a business relationship with Sarah,” he says, “It’s the business of raising kids.”  No, he isn’t in denial.  Nor is he secretly hoping to reunite.  “I’m trying to be high-minded here,” he says.  Besides, he’s busy falling in love with Tina, a woman he’s been dating for a few months.  They met at a wine tasting, and now his nights are filled with food and foreign films.  And passion.  “She’s the most sensual person I’ve ever met,” he says.  As we sit on his back deck near midnight drinking cabernet, he peeks at a possible future.  “It’s like, here we go again,” he says.  “There’s always that hope.  I mean, there’s nothing like the feeling of romance.  I predict I’ll be married, I hate to say this, but – relatively fast.”  In fact, new love is the single best antidote to divorce.  Hetherington, after studying hundreds of couples, found that their lives didn’t really get back on track, they weren’t truly happy again, until they found a new relationship.  “After a divorce,” her study concluded, “nothing heals as completely as new love.”

So Ted has done everything right.  After a year that would have left some guys face down on the floor of some bar, Ted is more than ambulatory; he’s a model.  He minimized conflict with Sarah and maximized cooperative parenting.  He contained all the upheaval and sacrificed his standard of living so his boys’ standard of living would remain unchanged.  Most of all, he has been there for them.  He has never given them less than his full attention.  Recent research looks at divorce as not a single earth-shaking event but rather a change that kicks off a series of disruptive events – new moves, new partners, possibly more divorces.  The sheer number of those changes can be devastating to children’s behavior, academics, and well-being.  Ted has kept those disruptions to a minimum.  But the nagging question, on his and every divorced parent’s mind:  Is it enough?  Will the boys turn out okay?  I ask Amato.  It’s an unfair question, of course.  He doesn’t know these people, and he couldn’t predict their fate even if he did.  Nonetheless, he hazards a guess:  “I suspect the kids will adapt well.”  But he quickly adds a caution:  “These children now have an elevated risk of seeing their own marriages end in divorce because they’ve seen that it can be an acceptable solution to an unhappy marriage.”  Like millions of separations before it, this might be the legacy of Ted and Sarah’s divorce:  a chain of pain.  As their children navigate their adult lives, they will be like boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.



Signs That You’ve Been Abused by a Narcissist

You Doubt Yourself

Do you recognize that you’re doubting yourself more than you ever have before?  Victims of narcissistic abuse often appear uncertain of themselves, constantly seeking clarification that they haven’t made a mistake or misheard something.  This reactive adaptation to narcissistic abuse is because the narcissist is ALWAYS finger pointing and shifting blame to YOU for ALL of the ups & downs both in the relationship AND in the narcissist’s personal psyche.  Because this relationship has NON EXISTENT boundaries, you will find YOURSELF constantly PUT UPON and FORCED to accept responsibility for things you didn’t do or say.  This borrowed humiliation and shame is exactly what the narcissist intends for the victim to take from the narcissist.  Their own unfelt core of shame.


Just refer to the above explanation of self doubt and boundary transgression if you want to understand the CONFUSION that is part and parcel of narcissistic abuse.  Daily boundary transgression and criss crossing of responsibility starts to wear on even the clearest minded of targets.  Suddenly you wake up and realize that all the realities and borders between yourself and others is not only BLURRED but MISSING.  It’s confusing to KNOW that you aren’t responsible for someone else’s behavior, thinking and feeling but to be CONSTANTLY SCOLDED for behaving, thinking and feeling as if you ARE.  It’s crazy-making and a narcissist purposefully causes this confusion.  They know that a divided and conquered mind is their most vulnerable and susceptible target who won’t be able to identify that their confusion is caused by an abusive technique called ‘gas lighting’.  Gas lighting is a technique of psychological abuse used by narcissists to instill confusion and anxiety in their target to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgement.  With gas lighting, the target initially notices that something happens that is odd, but they don’t believe it.  The target attempts to fight the manipulation, but are confused further by being called names or told that they’re: ‘Just too sensitive’, “Crazy’, ‘Imagining things’, or the narcissist flat out DENIES ever saying anything hurtful.  Gradually, the target learns not to trust their own perceptions and begins doubting themselves.  Broken and unable to trust themselves, they isolate further.  The target now doubts everything about themselves;  their thoughts and opinions, their ideas and ideals.  They become dependent on the narcissist for their reality.  For it is in your CONFUSION and acceptance of responsibility that belongs to the narcissist, that a narcissist is able to successfully CONTROL YOU and USE YOU as a scapegoat for their problems.

Feeling Crazy

Every minute of every hour of every day of every year, a Narcissist, who has a DSM classifiable personality DISORDER (ie: not playing with a full deck) is PROJECTING their disorder onto those around them.  If you don’t think that having a crazy person constantly blaming you for being “crazy” will make you crazy, I’d like to introduce you to a narcissist that will convince you otherwise.  This disorder isn’t a relationship gone wrong.  This disorder isn’t kid stuff.  It’s MALEVOLENT.  It’s a transference of malevolence and MENTAL DISORDER from the person who has it to the person who DOESN’T.  Frankly, before a narcissist, I’ve not once in my life, FELT CRAZY.  Neither have I ever been told by a psychologist and I’ve seen lots of them – that I had anything WRONG with MY own MENTAL HEALTH.  Personally, I always had it “together”.  I was resilient, mentally tough, and withstood many events in my life that would make others crumble.  Yet, when I unwittingly dated someone with this serious mental health malady, I wanted to slam an entire set of broken porcelain down his throat sideways and every obtuse moron that believes the garbage that comes out of this mouth.  No, it’s not that I suddenly became a person interested in physical violence, I suddenly became a person who was witnessing a DSM category all wrapped up into a physical being – who turned his mental health problems ON me.  I became a target of a person with a problem.  They say, “Hurt people, HURT people”.  I say, “Narcissistic People DESTROY PEOPLE”.

Emerging Cluster of Symptoms That Have No Other Explanation

All I could muster to the narcissist in my dear john letter when I broke up with him that wonderful New Year’s Eve, was “I DON’T KNOW what’s WRONG!!  But I just don’t feel like myself.  Something feels EXTREMELY TOXIC and I don’t know why”….. .  This should be the alert when a victim of narcissistic abuse presents themselves to therapists.  The inexplicable “complaint”.  My first visit to my therapist were those words exactly.  “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but it’s SERIOUS!”  I felt it.  I did – I felt BEWILDERED inside, but I could not articulate what it was.  (another red flag for someone usually able to articulate every feeling and explanation about myself in-depth).  How was it that after 43 years of explaining, analyzing and discussing my own deficiencies quite well, I could NOT for the life of me explain to my therapist what was so “wrong” with me that it was palpable.  His answer, set me free, it really did.  “YOU HAVE BEEN IN A DOMESTICALLY VIOLENT RELATIONSHIP WITH A NARCISSIST”.  My therapist has some background with this person.  He’d WITNESSED the narcissist calling me, berating me during sessions.  I held the phone away during one session, so that my therapist could hear the narcissist on the other end questioning me about cheating, “Accusing me of having an affair with the therapist”.  Grilling me about what the therapist looked like and would speak to me like.  He even accused the therapist of wanting me sexually and that was the reason the therapist spoke so lowly of the narcissist.  (of course it couldn’t just be that the narcissist had a bad reputation and the community was on to him).  Sufferers report that their spark has gone out and, even years later, find they just cannot get motivated about anything.  Unaware that we’ve been living in a war zone with a tyrannical narcissist, we can’t quite grasp the words to articulate the abuse, yet at the same time, we VERY MUCH FEEL IT.  We present ourselves to the mental health community, incapable of speaking about an abuse we yet know nothing about.  Until that word, “NARCISSISTIC ABUSE” is given to us, we have NO IDEA that is what’s causing our pain.  That’s why it’s SO IMPORTANT to get the word out there, what narcissists look like, their modus operandi, the words and phrases they use, so that when a victim of their abuse begins looking for answers, they quickly will be able to identify that they are involved with a narcissist.  In Narcissistic Victim Syndrome you are looking for a cluster of symptoms to emerge many are the symptoms of trauma (avoidance, loss of interest, feeling detached, sense of limited future, sleeping or eating difficulties and nightmares, irritability, hyper-vigilance, easily startled, flashbacks, hopelessness, psychosomatic illnesses, self-harming, thoughts of suicide, etc.).  Some victims develop Stockholm Syndrome and want to support, defend, and love the abuser despite what they have gone through.


Victims tend to ‘dissociate’ or detach from their emotions, body or surroundings.  Living in a war zone where all forms of power and control are used against you (intimidation; emotional, physical and mental abuse; isolation, economic abuse, sexual abuse, coercion, control, etc.), the threat of abuse is always present.  Dissociation is an automatic coping mechanism against overwhelming stress.  Symptoms of dissociation resulting from trauma may include depersonalization, (disconnecting your body awareness from your physical self) psychological numbing, disengaged from life and passions, or amnesia regarding the events of the abuse.  It has been hypothesized that dissociation may provide a temporarily effective defense mechanism in cases of severe trauma; however, in the long-tern, dissociation is associated with decreased psychological functioning and adjustment.  Other symptoms sometimes found along with dissociation in victims of traumatic abuse (often referred to as “sequelae to abuse”) include anxiety, PTSD, low self-esteem, somatization, depression, chronic pain, interpersonal dysfunction, substance abuse, self-mutilation and suicidal ideation or actions.  These symptoms may lead the victim to erroneously present the symptoms as the source of the problem.


Let’s face it.  If I didn’t mention PTSD, or Complex PTSD, I would NOT be doing the topic of narcissistic abuse syndrome ANY justice.  PTSD, in layman’s terms?  From a fellow sufferer?  A Cerebral anxiety attack that makes your whole body come alive with PALPABLE FEAR.  The rapid heart beat, the intrusive and spinning thoughts and fears – just like the abuse is CURRENTLY HAPPENING SEQUENTIALLY ALL OVER AGAIN.  This is called RE-LIVING.  It’s as if the traumatic abuse event is occurring in the present tense.  All the emotions of fear, shame, shrinking, wincing, looking over your shoulder & walking on eggshells waiting to be attacked ruthlessly AGAIN.

Physical Numbness – (toes, fingertips, lips) is common, as is emotional numbness (especially inability to feel joy).

Avoidance – of places, sounds, tastes, and songs that remind them of their abuser or the abuse.  Intense feelings of anxiety even in anticipation of having to revisit the memories.

Memory Loss – Almost all targets report impaired memory.  Partially due to conscious avoidance as well as from the damage done to the hippocampus, and area of the brain linked to learning and memory.

Need for Solitude/Tendency to Isolate – We’re EXHAUSTED after narcissistic abuse.  Feelings of withdrawal and isolation are common; we just want to be in our won head for a while, find our own answers; thus, solitude is sought.

Lack of Joy and Hope – Inability to feel joy (anhedonia) and deadening of loving feelings towards others are commonly reported.  One fears never being able to feel love or trust again.  The target becomes very gloomy and senses a foreshortened future sometimes with justification.  May targets ultimately have severe psychiatric injury, severely impaired health and/or stress related illnesses.

Sleeplessness – Melatonin became my new best friend after narcissistic abuse.  The nightmares and night terrors can be overwhelming that good restorative sleep becomes impossible.  Napping became my new favorite passion.  Sleep becomes almost impossible, despite the constant fatigue; such sleep as is obtained tends to be unsatisfying, unrefreshing and non-restorative.  On waking, the person often feels more tired than when they went to bed.  Depressive feelings arrive very early in the morning, making falling back to sleep an impossibility.  Feelings of vulnerability and loneliness may be heightened overnight.

Anxiousness, Guilt & Disturbing Thoughts – Targets have an extremely short fuse and are easily irritated.  The person frequently experiences obsessive visions of violence happening to the narcissist hoping for an accident for, or murdering the narcissist; the resultant feelings of guilt further limit progress in healing.

Fight or Flight Response – With your system on alert for ever-present danger in the environment it’s easy to react sensitively to sudden changes – causing the startle response.

Awareness of Symptoms – It’s very harrowing to realize that you are different from who you were before the narcissist; FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT.  When you are very aware that PTSD has replaced the narcissist, it emotionally drains the target of any hope for being PERMANENTLY NARCISSISTIC FREE.  We don’t want to be constantly reminded and away of the person we escaped.  We want to live freely, however symptoms, are a constant reminder that we DON’T.

As posted by ANA-After Narcissistic Abuse