When COVID Threatens to Break Up Your Relationship

The pandemic has massively disrupted normal life, creating conflict and suffering in innumerable ways. This much we know. But what I didn’t know, or expect, was how much disruption and the particular kind of conflict the pandemic would create in marriages and long-term relationships. For the first year of the pandemic, couples actually managed well. […]

Harmony in Relationship Does Not Require Agreement

James and Anna came to see me because of a big fight they were embroiled in. The issue was money, which I learned they had been arguing about for years, with no resolution. However, within a few minutes, it became clear that money was not their only or actual problem. They had vastly different ideas […]

Do You Have the Courage to Be a Good Friend?

Have you ever told a friend about a deeply upsetting experience and then had the friend tell you all the reasons why that experience won’t be upsetting at some point in the future? Have you ever been that friend who offers that advice? If we’re no longer a child, we probably already know that our feelings are going to change […]

Are You A People-Pleaser at Your Own Expense?

Petra was furious when she woke up in the morning—furious at herself.  The previous evening, she had met up with an old friend visiting from out of town.  He was going through a rough divorce and needed to talk.  Petra went into the evening ready to listen, and to be a good friend. Based on the fact […]

Why It’s So Hard to Be (Fully) Honest With Your Partner

Jill and her husband had attended a friend’s party, and Jill came home upset. Her husband’s friendliness—and what looked like flirtation—with another woman kept her awake all night, feeling hurt, angry, and threatened. She knew her husband loved her; she wasn’t worried that he would cheat. Still, the whole thing made her feel bad. She tried […]

Freeing Yourself From Your Partner’s Behavior

I recently wrote an article about a client who enjoys her marriage and who also struggles with her partner’s angry outbursts. The article garnered some fierce criticism. To recap: After many years of explaining to her partner how and why his anger (and denial of that anger) was hurtful and not okay, his behavior continued, barely impacted by her […]

When Your Relationship Is Not What You Think It “Should” Be

There comes a time in every relationship when you realize that something you think you need and “should” have is not available. What you do when you discover this can determine the future of the relationship, and your contentment within it. Our partner will have limitations, just as we will. It might be something small […]

Why Trying to Be Understood Is So Exhausting: Rethinking our Response to Daily Hurts.

Kim came downstairs for breakfast that morning only to find the coffeemaker full of old coffee. Yesterday’s brew sat in the pot, looking stale and dead. Her husband had always woken up earliest and was the designated coffee-maker in the family.  Kim could count the number of times she’d made coffee on one hand in the nearly two decades of breakfasts […]

Why It’s So Hard to Build Healthy Relationships After Growing Up in Chaos

When we grow up in emotionally chaotic households, we face challenges in establishing healthy adult relationships. When chaos is the norm, we get accustomed to living with what feels bad and scary. We learn to silence our experience because it feels too dangerous to speak up for ourselves or call anyone out on their behavior. As children, […]

Are Healthy Relationships Possible After Growing Up in Emotional Chaos?

When we grow up in emotionally chaotic households, we face challenges in establishing healthy adult relationships. When chaos is the norm, we get accustomed to living with what feels bad and scary. We learn to silence our experience because it feels too dangerous to speak up for ourselves or call anyone out on their behavior. As children, […]