Category: <span>Marriage counseling</span>

The Power of Handwriting by Robert Lee Hotz

I am big believer in writing in a journal. When you actually hand write out your thoughts and feelings your brain is better able to process what you are writing.

This article supports the power of hand writing. Students who take notes gy hand outperform students who type.

So grab a journal and do some writing about what is on your mind!

Don’t Apologize So Fast : Best way to make up after an argument

Here are 5 clear steps to use to make up after an argument

1. Wait to talk until you both are not longer upset

2. Give up the idea you need to be right. Instead focus on how you feel

3. Verbalize your understanding of how the other person feels

4. Quash any impulse to defend you position

5. Accept that it will take a little time to feel better.. Set a time to check in with each to see how things are between you.

Read the full article at this link: by Elizabeth Bernstein WSJ

Relationship Talking Points: What Your Spouse is Saying

Men and women both feel emotions but process  them at different speeds. Women are able to state their emotions faster.

Some tips for both men and women

-create a buffer a zone. Take a few minutes to prepare yourself before an emotional converation.

-Ask if its a good time to talk before starting

-Pause at times during the conversation to give the other person time to process

-Validate what you re hearing the other person say


Empty Nest: Why Arent We Having Fun Yet?

Empty Nest: Why couples find themselves wondering why arent we having fun yet? After all these years together, life was so busy and the focus was on the family and home and not on your relationship. Read more about how this unfolds and what to do to prevent it.

I see a bad mood rising-How to difuse a temper tantrum for all ages

We can have a temper tantrum at any age. This article talks about why its happening and how to address it in the moment and later with children, teens and adults.

Read more at :

Marriage Counseling: 7 Signs You Might Need Professional Help

There’s no question — marriage can be challenging. Maybe marriage counseling should be something you register for when you tie the knot. Much like a new set of dishes that gets scratched from constant use, relationships can also show wear and tear over the years. So how do you know if your marriage has hit a rough patch or it’s something more serious… requiring professional help?

read full article

The Gray Divorcés

The Gray Divorcés

The divorce rate for people 50 and over has doubled in the past two decades. Why baby boomers are breaking up late in life like no generation before.

For years, 51-year-old Dawn and her husband of two decades, Tim, had buried their differences over finances, child-rearing and religion. But when the last of the Wisconsin couple’s three daughters was finishing high school in 2009, those differences were all that Dawn could see. “I had gone back to school to advance my career as a paralegal, and his work had dwindled, so he was just basically hanging out with his buddies,” she says. “We had nothing to talk about, and when we did, it was bickering.”They had stayed together all those years because of the kids, but now nothing was left. “He was so uncompassionate, and I had turned to my religion, and he would never go to church with me,” she says. “I realized that I was alone in the marriage and would be better off with someone whose values and interests were more like mine.” She seized the moment and left, filing for divorce.

  While divorce is declining overall, the divorce rate among those 50-plus has doubled over the past two decades. Susan Gregory Thomas on Lunch Break discusses why gray divorce is on the rise.

For the new generation of empty-nesters, divorce is increasingly common. Among people ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has doubled over the past two decades, according to new research by sociologists Susan Brown and I-Fen Lin of Bowling Green State University, whose paper, “The Gray Divorce Revolution,” Prof. Brown will present at Ohio State University this April. The paper draws on data from the 1990 U.S. Vital Statistics Report and the 2009 American Community Survey, administered by the U.S. Census Bureau, which asked all respondents if they’d divorced in the past 12 months.

Though overall national divorce rates have declined since spiking in the 1980s, “gray divorce” has risen to its highest level on record, according to Prof. Brown. In 1990, only one in 10 people who got divorced was 50 or older; by 2009, the number was roughly one in four. More than 600,000 people ages 50 and older got divorced in 2009.

What’s more, a 2004 national survey conducted by AARP found that women are the ones initiating most of these breakups. Among divorces by people ages 40-69, women reported seeking the split 66% of the time. And cheating doesn’t appear to be the driving force in gray divorce. The same AARP survey found that 27% of divorcés cited infidelity as one of their top three reasons for seeking a divorce—which is not out of line with estimates of infidelity as a factor in divorce in the general population.

So what is going on with these baby boomers? Are they finally seeking adventure, now that their kids are out of the house? Are the women exacting their revenge, at last, against the feminine mystique?

John Kuczala for The Wall Street JournalIn 1990, 1 in 10 of all divorces were by people ages 50+. In 2009, 1 in 4 of all divorces were by people ages 50+.

The trend defies any simple explanation, but it springs at least in part from boomers’ status as the first generation to enter into marriage with goals largely focused on self-fulfillment. As they look around their empty nests and toward decades more of healthy life, they are increasingly deciding that they’ve done their parental duty and now want out. These decisions are changing not just the portrait of aging people in the U.S., as boomers swell the ranks of the elderly, but also the meaning of the traditional vow to stay together until “death do us part.”

“Some of those marriages that in previous generations would have ended in death now end in divorce,” says Betsey Stevenson, assistant professor of business and public policy at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, who studies marriage and divorce. In the past, many people simply didn’t live long enough to reach the 40-year itch. “You can’t divorce if you’re dead,” says Ms. Stevenson.

But that’s not the whole story, given that the bulk of the increase in late-in-life divorce has come among people ages 50-64. As a generation, boomers have changed American notions of marriage—and in the process, they have sown the seeds of their own discontent.

Most sociologists argue that boomers entered marriage with expectations very different from those of previous generations. “In the 1970s, there was, for the first time, a focus on marriage needing to make individuals happy, rather than on how well each individual fulfilled their marital roles,” says Prof. Brown, author of the gray marriage paper.

According to Prof. Brown, over the past century there have been three “phases” of American views of marriage. First, there was the “institutional” phase, in the decades before World War II, when marriage was seen largely as an economic union.

This was succeeded in the 1950s and ’60s by the “companionate” phase, in which a successful marriage was defined by the degree to which each spouse could fulfill his or her role. Husbands were measured by their prowess as providers and wives by their skills in homemaking and motherhood.

In the 1970s, the boomers initiated what Prof. Brown calls the “individualized” phase, with an emphasis on the satisfaction of personal needs. “Individualized marriage is more egocentric… Before the 1970s, no one would have thought to separate out the self as being distinct from the roles of good wife and mother.”

None of this is especially surprising for the “Me Generation,” but today’s gray divorces include a generational twist: For many boomers, it is not their first marital split. Fifty-three percent of the people over 50 now getting divorced have done so at least once before.

Getty ImagesMore than 600,000 people ages 50 and older got divorced in 2009.

In fact, more “complex marital biographies,” as Prof. Brown puts it, seem to be one of the driving forces behind gray divorce. Having been married previously doubles the risk of divorce for those ages 50 to 64. For those ages 65 and up, the risk factor quadruples.

For boomers who have had trouble maintaining commitments in the past, hitting the empty-nest phase seems to trigger thoughts of mortality—and of vanishing possibilities for self-fulfillment.

“With the children out of the house, boomers in unhappy marriages often look at each other and think, ‘I may have another 25 to 35 years to live. Do I want to spend it with this person?’ ” says Deirdre Bair, author of the book, “Calling It Quits: Late-Life Divorce and Starting Over,” a chronicle of nearly 400 interviews with people splitting in midlife. “There is an overwhelming, urgent feeling among them of, ‘I have to strike out now, or I’ll never have the chance again,’ ” says Ms. Bair.

Many of those now opting for gray divorces, however, fail to foresee its complications in today’s bleak economic landscape. This is especially true of women.


Though homes are often awarded to ex-wives, points out Pennsylvania divorce and family lawyer Elizabeth Bennett, this can be a burden instead of a blessing in a collapsed housing market. And when it comes to obligations to kids for things like continuing education, weddings and down payments on homes, according to Janice L. Green, a divorce and family law attorney in Texas, “it’s always the mother who is willing to give up settlement money that should be on her side of the ledger.”

Divorcing fathers have their own reasons to be concerned. According to a 2003 study from the University of North Florida, they are more likely to see a major decline in contact with at least one child, compared with stably married fathers, whereas divorced mothers tend to get closer to their children.

Still, many older divorcés say they’re happy. According to the 2004 AARP survey, the vast majority of divorcés ages 40-79 (80%) consider themselves, on a scale from 1 to 10, to be on the top half of life’s ladder. A majority of 56% even consider themselves to be on the uppermost rung (8-10). But “being alone” was nonetheless the top fear among both men and women, and those who had remarried reported significantly higher levels of life satisfaction.

So would some of these late-in-life divorcés have been better off trying to preserve their troubled marriages? According to John Mordecai Gottman, founder of the Gottman Institute in Seattle and author of “What Predicts Divorce?,” the behavioral precursors to late-life or empty nest divorce are no different from those for younger couples—criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling. And, of course, the longer such behavior has persisted, the more deeply ingrained it becomes in a couple’s personal dynamic.

In its work with older couples in crisis, Gottman Institute therapists recommend that spouses “turn toward” each other—that is, that they actively respond to bids for reconnection—rather than, say, snapping: “Excuse me, I’m trying to watch ‘CSI’ here!”

Those boomers who can’t manage to hold on to their marriages, though, will hardly be alone. Prof. Brown’s paper predicts that the number of over-50 divorces in 2030, based on current trends, could easily top 800,000 per year. And all those new divorcés shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a date. Indeed, over the past year, the number of dating-site users 50 or older has grown twice as rapidly as any other age group, according to comScore Inc., an online data-analysis and marketing company.

Dawn, the 51-year-old who divorced her husband of 20 years, found her current boyfriend of nine months on the over-50 dating site He’s a divorcé with no children, and Dawn describes him as “very religious and compassionate, the things I was lacking in my former husband.” Her kids—19, 20 and 26—are less sure, she says. “You can’t expect kids to be excited about a new person who isn’t their dad…But I’m very happy.”

—Ms. Thomas is the author of “In Spite of Everything: A Memoir.”A version of this article appeared Mar. 3, 2012, on page C1 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Gray Divorcés.

Couples Therapy for One: To Fix a Marriage, Some Go Alone

Many couples in troubled marriages wait too long to get help. By the time both spouses agree to counseling, the relationship has often been strained to the breaking point.

Some spouses, though, have found a way to work on their marriages even if their partners won’t go to couples counseling. They go alone.

Elizabeth Bernstein on Lunch Break looks at couples therapy for one. Most couples wait far too long to seek professional help when the marriage hits a rough patch and a common scenario is one partner wants to go and the other does not. As a result, some couples therapists are adapting traditional couples-counseling techniques for use with one spouse only.

Colleen Orme, 48, a marketing consultant living in Great Falls, Va., did this several years ago, after her marriage hit a rough patch. She believed her husband had stopped treating her with respect. He drove her car and returned it with no gas. He showed up two hours late to a charity event she’d been planning for months. He ignored her birthday. The two had many long, circular arguments in which she tried to explain her feelings and he defended himself.

Ms. Orme suggested couples counseling, and for a few months they both went to therapy sessions. Then, her husband quit. “I was looking for some answers and just wasn’t getting any,” says Tom Orme, 49, a sales representative for school products. “She complained about me and I complained about her.”

Ms. Orme decided to continue without him. “We spend a lot of time in marriages trying to fix the other person,” she says. “I changed my approach and decided to focus on how I can become happy.”

Taking a new approach in couples therapy, some counselors say troubled marriages can benefit even if just one spouse seeks help. And usually that spouse is the wife: Experts say women are more likely than men to get relationship-focused therapy alone.

At the University of Denver, unpublished results from a five-year longitudinal study of 300 long-term couples suggest that a month or so after receiving relationship-skills training, those who got it as individuals saw as much improvement in their relationships as those who got the training as a couple. A year and a half after the training, the Denver researchers found that couples where the women attended sessions alone reported being happier than couples where the men attended alone.

Howard Markman, a psychologist and the study’s lead researcher, says the women learned relationship skills more easily and were better at teaching them to their partners. Women also are more comfortable talking about feelings and the strong emotions that arise in couples therapy. While there is no hard data available, Dr. Markman estimates that in his own practice, when one spouse is resisting counseling it is the man about 70% of the time. Some other therapists estimate that figure in their own practices as high as 90%.

How to Make the Most of Marriage Therapy for One

  • Find a therapist who practices an evidence-based approach like cognitive behavioral couples therapy. Therapists who say they are ‘couples friendly’ focus on the relationship, not either individual.
  • Ask your spouse why he doesn’t want to go. Does he not agree there is a problem? Is he scared of what he will find out? Does he just not care? The answers to these questions will help you figure out where you stand.
  • Understand the goal. It isn’t to change your partner. It is to gain insight into your role in the dysfunctional pattern. ‘One spouse is never 100% of the problem,’ says Eli Karam, assistant professor at the University of Louisville’s marriage and family therapy program.
  • Invite your spouse to come with you to therapy, but don’t coerce. Do not threaten divorce! Your partner should be curious about this other person in your life. Perhaps he wants to come one time to meet your therapist? Even one meeting can help give a therapist perspective on the marriage.
  • Share insights, reading materials, even ‘homework’—and ask for help. If your spouse says he doesn’t get it, respond with curiosity. Say, It made sense to me, what is confusing about it to you? ‘Go in the side door,’ says Kim Leatherdale, a Little Silver, N.J., marriage therapist. ‘You are encouraging your spouse to open up.’

Couples therapy is basic conflict management. “One of the major problems in relationships is that people can’t handle the inevitable problems,” Dr. Markman says. Couples therapy focuses on the present, not the past. It helps people identify negative interaction patterns, recognize their individual role in them and do their part to change them.

The process works best if both partners participate, experts say. But if just one partner is willing, a couples-based approach can be substantially more effective for the marriage than traditional individual psychotherapy, Dr. Markman says. This is because couples therapy teaches practical skills for improving the relationship; individual therapy often focuses on uncovering patterns from childhood and other experiences. Dr. Markman recently started offering relationship coaching on the phone for women who can’t get their spouses into counseling.

In order for couples therapy alone to work, there are some ground rules. The relationship must be basically sound—no lying, cheating or abuse. The therapist will focus on the relationship, not the individual. And the partner who doesn’t come to therapy must still want to improve the marriage and should be informed about what goes on.

Whether in couples therapy alone or with a spouse, everyone must recognize that they won’t be able to change the other person, only themselves, therapists say. And each spouse needs to recognize his or her own role in creating the conflict. “I have never seen a relationship where all of the problems are the fault of one person,” says Eli Karam, assistant professor at the University of Louisville’s marriage and family therapy program.

Rather than griping, the focus will be on problems that can be solved. Is one partner always late? This can be addressed. Hate your in-laws? Too bad. Dr. Karam says he tries to help clients re-frame behaviors in a positive way. He might tell a husband who feels his wife is overly focused on details that at least the bills will be paid on time. “We need to remember why we were attracted in the first place,” Dr. Karam says.

Ms. Orme says at first she felt stuck in a rut while in couples counseling alone. “I would say, How can he not value me? Why can’t he be mature?” she recalls. And the arguing didn’t stop. Her husband recalls telling her, “If you want to go to counseling and get some insight, great, but you’re not my doctor.”

After two years, Ms. Orme says she finally started to hear what her counselor was saying. “I couldn’t blame my husband forever,” she says. The Ormes have been married 23 years.

Ms. Orme’s therapist helped her to stop pleading with her husband and start explaining to him what was important to her and expecting him to respect her needs. If she had a work deadline, she asked him to watch the kids.

“He is probably treating me differently because I won’t tolerate certain things anymore,” Ms. Orme says. “But I’ve also become a happier person, because I am not looking for him to make me happy anymore.”

Mr. Orme says he was confused by his wife’s changes at first but gradually came to appreciate her independence. “When she changed her behavior, the pressure dissipated,” he says. “And when that is gone, you can think more clearly and your whole perspective changes.”

Email Elizabeth Bernstein at or follow her column at


A version of this article appeared Mar. 6, 2012, on page D1 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Couples Therapy for One: To Fix a Marriage, Some Go Alone.

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