Make Angry or Happy Cookies... They taste the same

Make Angry or Happy Cookies... They taste the same

Too often we base our behaviors on our emotions: so if we feel loving to our partner we act loving, but if we feel upset we act upset. And while that makes sense, it also makes for  relationships that are only as stable as our emotions... which means not very. Instead...

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7 Red Lines: The Importance of Having a Realistic Approach to Change

7 Red Lines: The Importance of Having a Realistic Approach to Change

People come wanting a solution to a train wreck of a marriage: Save our marriage and transform it into a truly GREAT relationship. "Certainly. That's what I'm here for and I love to help people do... Let's get cracking...". And then they proceed to tell me how it should be constructed based on myths, what they heard, opinions and preferences that are contrary to how healthy relationships actually function; in what ridiculously short time frame it should occur; with minimal to no actual study, practice and effort on their part because  "really it shouldn't be this hard" nor "take this long." And then if they don't accomplish their goals in those parameters they quit therapy saying, "Well, we tried. Counseling just doesn't work." And they stay discouraged and stuck. 

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Attend to Them Before They Attend to You

Attend to Them Before They Attend to You

Listening to, and fixing, relationship noise. Too often, people come to me at the point of relationship crisis—someone's threatened divorce, there's been an affair, they have lots of conflict or they've "fallen out of love." Just the other day, a husband said to me, "How could she have all of a sudden stopped loving me?"

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From Ignorance to Mastery

From Ignorance to Mastery

I am ignorant. So are you. Face it. The reality is if I take every single thing I know, big and small, silly and profound, and compare it to all that there is to know in this vast universe then the only conclusion I can arrive at is that my knowledge is infinitesimally small and that I am VASTLY ignorant. I'm okay with that. It keeps my ego grounded and my mind open to learning. Fortunately, there is a solution to ignorance... 
 

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Dirty Dishes, Assertiveness & Problem Ownership

Dirty Dishes, Assertiveness & Problem Ownership

Fed up with picking up after her husband's dirty dishes, tired feeling taken for granted and hating "nagging" my client decided to put into practice two principles she's been learning in the GREAT Relationship Work we've been doing together: Problem Ownership and True Assertiveness.

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"Because I'm the Man..."

"Because I'm the Man..."

Friends, I am still astounded (even though I should know better) when I hear some men use the "argument", "Because I'm the man" to get their way and to exert control over their partners. That this still continues in this day and age is really amazing... and pathetic. Yet it does still and it takes all my professional training to keep from... Well, I won't say. Fortunately, there are many men who have long ago rejected that worn-out oppressive model. 

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Our 20th Anniversary Year-Long Celebration

Our 20th Anniversary Year-Long Celebration

You know how business' celebrate their 10th, 20th, etc anniversary of being in business all year long? Well, marriage and family is more important than any business so Kara and I decided today that we're going to make our 20th Anniversary a Year-Long Celebration instead of just on our anniversary date itself and stretch it out throughout 2012 with various big and small celebrations, activities and parties. Woo hoo! 

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Dads, Testosterone and Intimacy

Dads, Testosterone and Intimacy

As a marriage and family therapist, sex therapy is a common part of my practice. Often, people (men) worry that they aren't having as much sex as they used to when they were first married and that must mean there is something wrong with their marriage. This often leads to conflict in the marriage. 

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"Execution of the Cheater" Pledge to Honor Your Relationship

"Execution of the Cheater" Pledge to Honor Your Relationship

For years I have said that relationships will no longer tolerate sloppiness nor carelessness. Cheating is short-lived enjoyment that destroys too much. It's like burning down a cathedral just to fry an egg. It's time to "execute cheating" and put an end to cheating. I know we can't eradicate cheating from the world, but YOU can choose. It's time to take a stand and PLEDGE TO HONOR YOUR RELATIONSHIP. Honor used to mean something. It still can. Be a man of honor. Be a woman of honor. There is glory in honor. Let's bring honor back. Listen to this song and like this page.

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"Insanely Great" Relationships

"Insanely Great" Relationships

Rather than learning to settle for "meh" relationships, I have taught for years the need for creating phenomenally GREAT relationships. My tag lines for my practice have been as follows:

  • "GREATness in relationships. Nothing less."
  • "MarriageEnvy.com: The GREAT relationship you've always wanted."
  • "GREAT relationships don't just happen... They are created."
  • "Relate GREAT."

I admit I was inspired by Steve Job's famous standard for Apple and all of their products: "Insanely great." That phrase stuck in my head and resonated with my core—and not just from a product standpoint, but from a life standpoint.

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MARRIAGE MASTERY Tip 6: From MLK, Jr: See the Other's Point of View

MARRIAGE MASTERY Tip 6: From MLK, Jr: See the Other's Point of View

Consider these words from Martin Luther King, Jr. (1967) the next time you engage in conflict with your partner and you perceive them as the enemy:

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence...
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Momma Songs

Momma Songs

Every year for Mother's Day I put together a CD for the mother of my treasures (aka the kids) called Momma Songs. These usually contain songs related to being a mom (serious and silly, rockin' and meaningful) and usually some love songs that reflect my love, ongoing attraction and gratitude for my wife and friend. This year I put together two: One just with mother-related songs and one with love-related songs. I thought I'd share the playlists with you in case you'd like to share a song or two with the woman in your life who makes it all alright. Give mom's due props!

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Marriage Prep: Prepare for Your Marriage, Not Just Your Wedding

Marriage Prep: Prepare for Your Marriage, Not Just Your Wedding

Most people get married to stay married. However, with fifty percent of first marriages and sixty-five percent of second marriages ending in divorce, it seems like a dicey proposition at best. The good news is that approximately two-thirds of divorces could be prevented with education and intervention. One of the absolute best ways to prevent divorce is to get that education and intervention as soon as possible—even before the problems arise.

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Don't Blame Me. Make Yourself Look Good

Don't Blame Me. Make Yourself Look Good

I love this. I really do. Once a good friend of mine, in response to his wife (who was good friends with my wife) getting on his case because "Jonathan does this" and "Jonathan does that..." in reference to what I do for my wife and children. He jokingly/seriously said to me one day, "Man, you're making me look bad." I laughted and said, "No. I'm making myself look good. You're making yourself look bad."

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Marriage Prep: To the Parents and Grandparents of Young Married Couples

Marriage Prep: To the Parents and Grandparents of Young Married Couples

I recently attended one of the several bridal shows in the community. There was aisle after aisle of gorgeous displays with many excited young brides accompanied by their mothers, fiancés, sisters and friends. Every product and service you could imagine was available to help these wonderful couples prepare for a truly memorable wedding. In the midst of all this joy I wondered why there weren’t any services to help couples ensure that their marriages would last well beyond their wedding day to their golden anniversary. 

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Marriage Prep: What to Expect from Pre-Marital Work

Marriage Prep: What to Expect from Pre-Marital Work

What better wedding gift to give each other than to commit to enhancing your marriage by learning skills that will continue throughout the years to reinforce your love for each other? Couples want to give the best gifts: the gifts of knowledge, commitment, appreciation, communication and time together. However, as many a parent and grandparent are aware, many newly married couples do not have the skills and tools to take the love that initially led to their decision to marry into the long-haul daily practice of creating, maintaining and improving a lasting marriage.

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