couples

Dear Sex-Starved Husband,

conflict, couples, desire, marriage, sex

I know you are angry. Resentful. Frustrated. Or maybe just living with quiet desperation. But because I see so many of you in the safety of my office I also know how hurt and vulnerable you are. You’re thinking that when your wife does not respond favorably to your advances, that she is rejecting you. I know that secretly you fear that you aren’t good enough or desirable. Your self-esteem gets bruised every time it happens. To make matters worse, she might even roll her eyes or use sarcasm, like, “it ain’t your birthday!” or “you have a one-track mind!” which stings at the very least and can be crushing at...

Should Opposites Attract?

conflict, couples, divorce, marriage

I’m in lovely St. Charles, Illinois today learning from  a master therapist, Dr. Brent Atkinson.  He is a professor, researcher, author and couples therapist who has spent the last 30 years honing his craft.  He asked us today to look at our partner through the lens of our nervous system.  Most of us never consider the idea that our individual nervous systems are largely responsible for how we experience and manage stress.  Ever notice how some people can be energized by stress or at least seem to let stress roll off them and others can barely make it until 5:00 p.m. each day?  There is a good chance that you married...

Need a Valentine Do-Over?

conflict, couples, marriage

Guys, I know Valentine’s Day is one of the most high pressure days of the year for you. Most of you are expected to read your wives’ mind and then exceed whatever it is she is imagining. The bigger problem is that her expectations can be a moving target, leaving you in denial with your head stuck in the sand until the last minute. I feel for you, I really do!  So I want to try to explain why we are frequently disappointed with you on this day. Most women are in love with the idea of being in love. 364 days a year our lives look like the Cinderella...

Dear Critical Wife,

couples, marriage

Girl, I know how frustrated you are. Your husband has shut down or checked out. The more you try to talk to him, the further into himself he retreats. You tell yourself that he doesn’t care and wonder how he can be so cold or callous. Trying to resolve issues feels impossible because you can’t manage to have a conversation without it leading to explosive anger or complete silence. I want to share with you what I’ve learned about men. Including my own husband. Men perceive complaints as criticism. We feel like we are merely sharing feelings, bringing up a legitimate issue/request but their perception is that we are pointing...

Dear Unfaithful Husband,

conflict, couples, divorce, marriage, therapy

You got caught. The two worlds you’ve been living in have come crashing together. Your wife is a wreck. Her mind is now contaminated and her anxiety and anger consumes her. She feels crazy and she is making you feel crazy. You were unprepared for her intense agony. You are wondering if she will ever be able to forgive you, move on and stop asking relentless questions.   The short answer is that this depends almost entirely on you and how you behave from this point forward. Though intense, her response is a normal reaction to trauma. Yes, trauma. The foundation of her life – her husband and intact family –...

Six Simple Steps to Finding a GREAT Couples Therapist

couples, marriage

Choosing a therapist can be daunting but it doesn’t have to be if you follow these six steps. Ask a trusted friend to ask their trusted friends on your behalf without sharing your identity. Don’t be afraid to admit you need help. Most couples end up seeking help at some point in their marriage. Use an on-line therapist directory such as www.goodtherapy.org or www.psychologytoday.com. Enter your zip code to begin searching for someone near you. Cast a wide net and search within a reasonable driving radius.   Read the profiles and listen to your gut. If a therapist seems interesting, go straight to their website and read everything they’ve written. Most therapists...

Dear Angry Husband

couples, marriage

I know that you have gotten a raw deal in life when it comes to the expression of emotions. I know that from as early as your toddler days you started to hear “man up!” And if you expressed vulnerable emotions such as hurt feelings, fear of rejection, feeling unloved or inferior, you were looked at as weak or pathetic. Of course when you saw women express these feelings people were understanding so you began to suspect that these sorts of feelings were feminine and certainly not masculine. You saw men who expressed these feelings become a target of ridicule so this reinforced what you already suspected. I know that...