Advice to The Newlywed: You Can Be Right Or You Can Be Happy

When my friends got married, I loved throwing bachelor parties. Many of my friends were in the mental health profession. And many of these therapists did couples and family therapy. Inevitably, someone would ask: “What advice do you have for the bride and groom?” One of the best pieces of advice that I heard was simply this: “You can be right or you can be happy.” When I counsel couples, we inevitably get into a discussion of what is right and wrong. Usually, at least one partner is concerned about being right in an argument. Without fail, one or both…

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Pre-Wedding Freak-out II: Parents

As I mentioned in a previous post, family and friends will tend to act-out just prior or even during a wedding. It’s important to remember that a wedding doesn’t join two individuals in marriage; it joins two families and two sets of friends too. Let’s examine this in a bit more detail by looking at the issues that parents often have around weddings. Parental Jealousy We like to think of ourselves as rational human beings. However, if I am honest with myself, occasionally I am far from rational. Sometimes this is a good thing. The strong loving bond between a…

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What is Romance?

In the old days, miners carried canaries down into their mine shafts. If the canary lived, the mine was safe. If the canary died, the miners knew they were in trouble because of toxic gases. When it comes to relationships, romance tends to be the canary in the mine. When there are serious relationship problems, romance and mutual fun tends to die. When couples patch their relationships together in therapy, one of the first dilemmas that couples face is how to get the romance back into their lives. They look back nostalgically at the beginning of their relationship, a bit…

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OK Cupid. Drop That Arrow and Move Away From Your Bow.

Valentines Day is here and I was particularly struck by how virulent our distrust of romance, relationships and marriage has become. I recently came across an article by Eric Bartels of the Portland Tribune that really captured the ambivalence that our society has regarding marriage. And, he tentatively quotes local sociologist Johanna Brenner regarding some of the relatively good news about marriage. One of the things that caught my eye was that people are waiting longer to get into marriage, they cohabit more outside of marriage and that the divorce rate has leveled out over the last 20 years. Unfortunately,…

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