Entries in relationships (14)


WaPo Asks My Advice for Dads-to-Be

I was so pleased to help Soloish Lisa Bonos with her excellent Washington Post Magazine feature on the male biological clock. Many people assume that the ticking of the biological clock only impacts women, but Bonos explored the ways that men experience anticipation and anxiety about becoming fathers. Read more here!


Summertime Advice

It's been a slow, lazy, wonderful summer, but I have fallen behind in my posting, so here's a roundup of my Murphy's Love column advice:

Connecting Through Complaint? Why does she find their gossip so irritating?

If Dad is Hyper-Critical, Mom needs to step up

Ex-Boyfriend Gets Benefits? What to do when the breakup doesn't take

Time to Change His Life - No more wasting time

As always, I welcome (and need!) your questions, so please send them in!


How Friendships Evolve - or Die

It's rare for an advice column to get to address a particular reader's question more than one time. I had the great opportunity to receive an initial question early this year, and then a follow-up a month later, as the writer offered an update on her attempts to repair a friendship she missed and wanted to have back in her life. Links to the two-part series can be found here.


Toxic, Negative Energy

Toxic energy in a relationship is very dangerous - and very common. I talk about it almost weekly with the couples I see in my practice for marriage and couples counseling. I also talk about it in my column for The Georgetowner newspaper, and I am always happy for the chance to address the fact that the way we treat each other does have an impact on our long-term relationship (not to mention the impact it has on our kids, who are recording our every move with their rapidly-developing little brains). True, having an attitude or using passive aggression to make a point are common behaviors that may seem insignificant at the time. But this negativity builds up over time and starts to permeate the air we breathe. Read my column about this here.


Who Sees the Therapist?

My most recent Murphy's Love column for the Georgetowner newspaper opened the discussion on the age old question (at least it's age-old to me, a couples counselor) of "if she's the problem, why do I have to go to couples therapy?"

It's true, there is usually a "drag-er" and a "drag-ee" when a couple first comes to my office. The drag-er often researches the therapist, makes the appointment, and sometimes tries to do the talking in the session. The drag-ee may be angry, or just frustrated that s/he is being made to feel like the "identified patient." But rest assured, by the end of the first session, things become a bit more balanced. And it's not because I work to show the couple how both of them are "the problem." Quite the contrary. My work is to protect the relationship space between them, so they can start operating like a team again. We don't do that by placing blame about who got us where and when. Rather, we work to rebuild the trust between the two people.

From a new foundation of trust and support, it's easier to notice weak spots and work together to repair them. Being shamed into getting help is never going to work. As I write in this column, "no one ever got better when her spouse responded to her loneliness by saying, 'Go get yourself some help, I’m buying.'" Real help, real change, real growth only happens when both people make it safe to talk about the areas that need some extra attention. You can read my column here.