Look Before You Leap: Divorce Isn't All That It's Cracked Up to Be

relationship difficulties

Look Before You Leap: Divorce Isn’t All That It’s Cracked Up to Be

When people divorce they have visions of better lives. Old problems will vanish, they hope, as new dreams take their place. These dreams usually include meeting candidates for more intimate relationships, more compatible sexual partners, improved financial status, more freedom to pursue personal goals and new opportunities to make independent choices. As explained above, these dreams frequently do not materialize, creating a whole new set of problems. Even when desired changes do occur, they are not without unintended consequences. Here are some frequent but unexpected consequences of divorce. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | View Comments

Cheeseless Tunnels


As a psychology student, I had the opportunity (if that’s what you want to call it) to observe how quickly rats learn by observing them as they searched through mazes looking for a piece of hidden cheese. We can take a lesson from these rats.

You have a maze that contains five tunnels. Take a piece of cheese and place it down tunnel number four. Release a hungry rat and initially the rat will explore the tunnels looking for the cheese. As soon as it discovers the cheese is down tunnel number four, it will begin its search there each time. As long as you continue placing the cheese down tunnel number four, it will ignore all the other tunnels and only go down tunnel number four. However, if you change things and place the cheese down a different tunnel, the rat will very quickly switch gears and search the other tunnels. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | View Comments

Save Your Marriage with The Marriage Breakthrough (cont.)

Just as promised, here are a couple more videos from my Marriage Breakthrough DVD.  Also the rest of the Save Your Marriage: Marriage Breakthrough clips can be found on YouTube.  Enjoy.

What Sex Means to Your Husband

Sex, Just Do It

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

Posted in Uncategorized | View Comments

Save Your Marriage with The Marriage Breakthrough

I am featuring parts of the Marriage Breakthrough Seminar because I want people to know that, although relationships don’t come with instruction manuals, there is much that can be learned about making marriages work.  No one is born knowing how to create a successful relationship.  We learn about marriage by watching our own parents’ marriages and let’s face it, many of us didn’t have great role models.  But the good news is that relationship skills can be taught and learned. The Marriage Breakthrough is a seminar I offer that offers couples the skills they need to build on what’s positive in their lives and improve what hasn’t been working. Regardless of how challenging one’s marriage has been, I want to spread the word that there’s hope.  Skills and information combined with hope equates to loving, healthy marriages.  That’s what we do at the Divorce Busting Centers. We’re hope mongers!

With that said, I’ve uploaded a lot of the content from this seminar to the Divorce Busting YouTube Page, and will be adding more here for your convenience.  The full-length DVD comes with additional exercises, real life examples, and more tips on how to strengthen your marriage.  If you like what you see in the clips I’ve provided, then I recommend getting the Marriage Breakthrough DVD, and visiting the Divorce Busting Store for additional products designed to save marriages and stop divorce.

Save Your Marriage: Spend Time Together

Save Your Marriage: Talk to Your Wife

Communication Tips for Women

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

Posted in Uncategorized | View Comments

Four Easy Steps to Changing Bad Relationship Habits

A couple’s problems unfold in the same way, at the same time, in the same location much of the time. Arguments become highly patterned and once these patterns are discernible, any minor change might yield different results. To help you identify what to change, pay attention to the pattern the problem takes by asking yourself the following four, “What, Where, When and Who” questions. As you respond to these questions, you will see that problems can be resolved by altering the way the problem is handled (who, what) or by changing the contest (where, when) in which the problem regularly occurs.

1. What Have You Been Doing to Try to Make Things Better? What Are Your “More of the Same” Behaviors?

From your spouse’s perspective, exactly what have you been doing lately in order to solve a particular problem? Would your spouse say that you have been nagging a lot lately? Or would he say that you have been withdrawn? Would she say that you’re outspoken or that you keep your thoughts to yourself? Does your spouse use a pet phrase to describe your way of handling things? If so, what is it? It is essential that you identify how your spouse sees you because your behavior has been triggering him or her to react in ways you dislike.

Try to put yourself in your spouse’s shoes. Imagine what he or she has thought and felt about your problem-solving efforts. If you were not present in the room and your spouse was asked, “How has he or she been acting lately in regard to the problems the two of you have been experiencing?”, what would he or she say? For example, a man told me that if his wife were asked about his behavior, she would say that he is lazy and never helps around the house. While he disagreed, saying that he worked hard on outside chores, he knew he would have to do more inside tasks in order for her to feel that he was changing. Keep in mind that like the man in this example, you probably won’t agree with your spouse’s assessment of your behavior, and that’s okay.

Whatever pigeonhole your spouse has placed you into, this is the behavior you must change. Ask yourself: “What would I have to do differently for my spouse to think I’m changing?” You must surprise your spouse by handling the situation differently the next time. Any change might do as long as it is different enough for your spouse to notice. Be creative, use your imagination. The single guideline is: The next time you get into the situation where you feel tempted to do the same old thing, do something different. No matter how weird or crazy it might seem, do something you have never done before.

Take for example, my own experiences with my husband Jim:

Since I rarely prepare a homemade meal for dinner (my husband is the gourmet cook), I expect punctuality (and appreciation) when I do. Although my husband is generally considerate about informing me of his schedule, he occasionally “forgets,” returning home later than usual without a phone call to advise me of his plans. There seems to be an uncanny correlation between the extremely infrequent occasions I decide to prepare a meal and his “forgetting” to come home on time.

The sequence of events, when this occurs, is always the same.  Dinner is ready and I mumble about the food getting cold. I suggest to my daughter that we begin without dad so that our food will still be hot. She senses my growing impatience. Later (what seems like years later) the door opens and I carefully plan my revenge – I will silently pout until he asks me, “What’s wrong?” and then I will let him have it!

As he enters the room he greets us and seats himself, commenting about how good dinner smells. Then he cordially obliges by asking what I’m upset about and when I tell him, he accuses me of being unreasonable. Things generally deteriorate from there. This particular plan of attack never works. I know this but my behavior belies this awareness.

However, something unusual happened one particular evening. The dinner scene was unfolding as usual when he walked through the door thirty minutes late. I was rehearsing to myself what I would say when he asked the million-dollar question. He predictably entered the room, said hello to us, sat down and began to eat. A couple of minutes passed and he did not inquire, “What’s wrong?” “He’s probably starving,” I thought, reassuring myself that my attack was imminent. He then turned to my daughter and asked her how her day went in school. She launched into a ten-minute monologue consisting of the longest sentence I have ever heard. I thought she would never stop talking. After all, I was still waiting for my invitation to explode.

When she finally finished, instead of addressing me, my husband began to tell her some details of his day at work. She listened politely as I felt rage building inside: “What nerve, he didn’t ask me why I am pouting!” I waited a while longer, though I couldn’t help but become mildly interested in the conversation. Without realizing it, I found myself joining the discussion. The remainder of the meal was very pleasant.

When I realized what had happened I asked my husband why he decided to talk to our daughter instead of asking about my silence. He replied, “You always tell your clients to do something different when they get stuck, but you never follow your own advice. I thought I would give it a shot.”

It’s just awful to have your own weapons used against you.

2. Where Do Most of Your Arguments Occur?

Have you noticed that your battles usually occur in one particular location? Perhaps it’s the bedroom, living room, during visits to friends or family or in the car. What is the pattern to the locations of your fights? After you’ve identified your usual battlefields, try an entirely different location. For example, if you usually argue in the bedroom, start your discussion in the living room. Or you might consider discussing matters while on a walk around the block. Some couples go out for dinner to discuss their differences knowing that they will not let things get out of hand in a public place.

A colleague of mine once told a couple that the moment they felt a fight coming on they were to go to the bathroom and continue in there. The couple reported their trip to the bathroom made them start laughing and they were unable to continue sparring.

3. When Do Most of Your Arguments Occur?

When do you most often get into arguments with your spouse? Is it right after one or both of you return from work, right after a fight with the children, every Friday night, on the weekends?

Try Varying the Time of Day or Week You Deal with Bothersome Issues

If you usually fight the moment your spouse walks through the door at the end of the day, postpone it until after dinner. If you wait until weekends to work out your differences, try doing it during the week. If Friday nights are problematic, try talking things out Friday morning. Varying the time you confront a problem often changes the way it’s handled.

Keep Peak Performance Times in Mind

“Timing is everything,” people say, and while it may not really be everything, it is extremely important. People would be better off if they recognize the significance of timing. Clients tell me, “If she would just wait thirty minutes after I come so that I can unwind, I’d be happy to discuss it with her,” or “He wants to cuddle at eleven P.M. and by then, I’m exhausted. If he came upstairs with me at nine-thirty, we would still have a sex life,” or “I’ve noticed that if I talk to him on the phone when he is at work, he is not very warm.” When people act at the appropriate moment, they frequently get more of their needs met.

Ask yourself: “When am I most likely to get the kind of response I want from my spouse?” Even if you think that there never seems to be a good time to discuss things, some times are clearly worse than others. Avoid those times at all costs.

4. Who is More Likely to Handle Certain Issues?

Many years ago when I was a rookie therapist I had an experience which taught me a great lesson about problem solving. A colleague was working with a mother who was unable to get her eleven-year-old daughter to school in the morning. The mother said her daughter had a school phobia. The school psychologist was also working with the daughter to help her overcome her so-called phobia. The father left their home early in the morning for work each day and was not aware of the problem because his wife didn’t want to bother him with it.

But when the woman had to leave town suddenly because of a death in her family, the father reported to work later in the morning in order to take his daughter to school. Unaware of the girl’s “phobia,” he woke her, made her breakfast, prodded her along as she dressed, ignored her requests to stay home and drove her to school. When the mother returned, she couldn’t believe that her husband had gotten their daughter to school without a major confrontation. The girl’s school phobia had miraculously vanished! In light of this “miracle cure,” the father agreed that he would take the girl to school until regular attendance was more of a habit.

Vary Who Handles the Problem

The lesson I learned from this family was that one way to introduce novelty into the habitual handling of problems is to change who handles the problem. We cannot conclude that the father was a better parent, we can only conclude that in regard to the school problem, his actions, which differed greatly from his wife’s, did not trigger his daughter’s resistance about going to school.

Changing who is in charge of a particular decision or set of decisions can free couples from endless, unproductive debates about whose way of doing things is correct. Although there is rarely only one correct approach, this fact never stops people from trying to prove themselves champions in decision-making battles. As they debate, the problem persists and gains momentum.

The great news about all of this is that you don’t have to be an expert on what works in order to try something new. You just have to steer clear of what you know doesn’t work. Once you apply this very simple principle to your problem-solving efforts, you will be surprised at how quickly and efficiently you can bring about change.  That’s how you save marriage and prevent divorce. You don’t even have to wait for your partner to change. You can trigger change singlehandedly!!

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | View Comments

The Foxes and the Rabbits


The Foxes and The Rabbits

Several years ago something mysterious happened in Canada. The rabbit population had diminished drastically.  Intrigued by this, scientists searched for an explanation.  Although they thought the drop in the number of rabbits must have been caused by an illness, they could not indentify any.  A few years later, scientists again noticed something unexplainable: The rabbit population increased.  Adding to their perplexity, shortly thereafter it decreased once again. Still, scientists discovered no explanation for these variations in the rabbit population.  Additionally, at approximately the same time, population fluctuations of foxes were noticed. As before, scientists investigated illnesses which might have accounted for these fluctuations but, again, none were discovered.

By coincidence, reports about the cycles in the rabbit and fox populations were read by another scientist who then put together the pieces of the puzzle.  He noticed that as the number of foxes grew, the number of rabbits dimished, and when the number of rabbits grew, the number of foxes diminshed.  He figured that as the rabbit population multiplied, they provided an ample food source for the foxes, which resulted in larger numbers of foxes.  When the increased number of foxes ate the rabbits, the food supply vanished, which eventually resulted in the foxes dying off.  When the fox population declined, the rabbit population increased, creating a new food supply for the foxes.  This cycle was self-perpetuating.

The rabbit and fox story illustrates an important point. If one’s microscope is too narrowly focused, the meaning of an event may remain a mystery.  This principle also applies to marriages.  A wife’s behavior may seem as mysterious as the unexplained rise and fall of the rabbit population until viewed together with her husband’s actions.  In order to understand her behavior, thoughts and feelings, it is necessary to study his actions to see how the parts fit together.  I will use a couple I’ve worked with in the past as an example of this. Let’s call them Ann and Steve.

Ann called me to set up a marriage coaching appointment after reading in the newspaper about my approach to marital problems.  Ann had asked Steve to move out several weeks prior and, although she hoped things could be worked out between them, she worried that it might be too late.  The rejection she felt from Steve was more than she could bear.  She requested coming in alone for the first session.  Based solely on Ann’s description of their marriage problems and Steve’s actions during the last several years, one might have prematurely concluded that Steve’s behavior was insensitive, erratic and selfish and that she was lacking in good judgement when she married this immature man.

However, when Steve came in by himself for the second session he seemed a far cry from the man Ann had described.  In contrast, to Ann’s version of their life together, Steve thought he was the one who was rejected by Ann.  As he talked about the marriage and how their relationship unfolded, his actions took on new meaning.   The picture Ann had painted of Steve as an insensitive lout slowly melted as their marital interactions became evident.   Steve and Ann’s dilemma made perfect sense once the complex interplay between them was brought to light.

Ann’s Point of View

Ann, a professional woman in her early thirties, looked tired when she walked through my door the first time, the strain of the two-week separation from her husband showing on her face.  She tearfully explained that it was probably too late to save her marriage but, wanting to leave no stone unturned, she set up her meeting with me.  Ann told me that Steve was never big on communicating, but there had been virtually no communication at all for the past five years of their fifteen-year marriage.  I sensed Ann’s desperation and extreme loneliness as she reflected on what went wrong.  The marriage started going downhill when Melissa, their oldest of three, was born:

Steve was a doting father; no one could have been prouder.   We loved showing off Melissa to the world and we were getting along really well.  But then everything changed.   Steve joined a softball team two months after Melissa was born and he was gone a lot.  When he wasn’t playing baseball, he was practicing.  That would have been fine with me but he also stopped for a couple of beers after the games with his buddies.  It seemed like he was never home.

At first I tried asking him to spend more time at home but he didn’t seem interested in the least.  I even tried attending his softball games, but it wasn’t always so easy with the baby.  To say that I was lonely is an understatement.  My only outlet for human contact other than Melissa was my co-workers.   We talked a lot about our husbands at work and they all seemed the same.  Men!

From that point on, the situation only deteriorated.  When the softball season ended, he started playing football.   In between team sports, he joined a health club and worked out what seemed like eight days a week.  Then, as if all that weren’t enough, he took up golf.

I’m not exactly sure why we had two more kids knowing that our marriage was lousy.  Maybe I was hoping that having a baby would bring us closer like it did with Melissa in the beginning.  But, it didn’t – just the opposite.  Now we hardly speak to each other.  I stopped trying to spend time together years ago.   I think I stopped caring then too.  I have so much resentment about having to raise these three kids by myself, I’m not sure I can ever get past it.

Ann’s firm conviction that their problems were due to Steve’s actions was matched by Steve’s unwavering certainty that Ann was to blame for the problems in their marriage.

Steve’s Point of View

Steve willingly came in for a session and, just as willingly, shared his views on their marriage.  He immediately admitted that he was a quiet kind of guy, but added that Ann was not particularly open about her feelings either.  He recalled many times when, instead of telling him she was hurt or angry, she would just stew about something he had done.  Periodically, she would blow up and then things would be okay for a while.  During the last few years, Ann’s outbursts had ceased completely.  Now when he tried to ask her “What’s wrong?” or “Can I do something to help you feel better?” she always rejected his advances.  Eventually, like Ann, he also stopped trying.

Steve and Ann agreed on at least one thing: Melissa’s birth marked a turning point in their marriage.

Melissa was a real joy to me.   I felt really close to Ann after we had a baby; we had a great marriage.   I knew our lives would change tremendously with this new responsibility but I had no idea that I would lose Ann in the process.  All she cared about was Melissa. Melissa this, Melissa that.  She didn’t even notice when I came home from work at night.   Many times I suggest that we get a babysitter and go out alone, but she would never let anyone but family watch the baby.  Our friends got babysitters for their kids, so I couldn’t see why she was being so picky.  I think she just didn’t want to be alone with me for some reason.

As time passed, things got worse.   Even though it wasn’t logical, I started resenting Melissa. Being home was a drag.  Ann wasn’t fun anymore.  My buddies asked me to play ball or go out with them and I was happy that at least someone wanted to be with me.   Occasionally, Ann would make some nasty comment about my playing ball, but I think she was just jealous.   Her life was dull and mine wasn’t.

Gradually we became more like roommates.  She was not interested in sex anymore and it’s a real miracle we had two more kids.  It must have been the immaculate conception.  Each time I would try to be affectionate in order to feel close to her, she would recoil.   She accused me of just wanting to get laid, but she didn’t understand that I really wanted to feel connected.  The harder I tried, the further she pushed me away.   Sex and marriage should go hand and hand.  A guy can just take so much rejection.  I figured the next move was up to her, but the next move never happened.

Instead, out of the blue, she told me to move out.  She said she wanted some time to think, that it was only a separation, not a divorce.  In my book, moving out the start of a divorce.   I didn’t want to move out, but I also don’t want to be in a marriage with someone who doesn’t love me.

I know I haven’t been easy to live with and I probably haven’t spent as much time with the family as I should.  I’m willing to make changes for our marriage and our family.  But she has to let go of the past and tell me what she wants from me rather than holding everything in.  I’m sure we can work things out if she just gives it a chance.

The Circular Connection

If one were to ask Ann how their problems developed, she would point a finger at Steve.   She would say that Steve started the problem by withdrawing from her.   But if Steve were asked the same question, he would say that Ann caused their problem by shutting him out of her life.  Perhaps now, after reading both Ann’s and Steven’s perspectives, you can see how the pieces of the puzzle fit together.  Steve’s absences from home make sense in light of his feeling rejected by Ann, and Ann’s resentment of Steve makes sense in light of the distance he placed between him and his family.   Each person’s behavior is a response to an action or event which preceded it, while at the same time a trigger for that which follows it.

Rather than thinking about actions and reaction as being causally related (A causes B), for example, “If Steve spent more time at home, Ann would feel like having sex more often,” solution based therapists think about actions being related in a circular fashion (A leads to B leads to A and so on), for example, “she is less interested in sex because he’s not part of her life he is not part of her life because she isn’t interested in sex.”  Clearly, it is not an either/or proposition, it is both.  According to this view, it is impossible to determine blame or fault because there is no beginning or end to interactions. Attempting to assign blame results in the ultimate chicken-and-egg debate.

Think about the countless number of times you and your spouse have angrily tried to figure out who started a fight or who’s to blame for a particular problem.  “You started it” are words echoed throughout living rooms everywhere.  The process of determining blame rarely yields a consensus because although we are aware of our partner’s impact on our own thinking, feeling and behavior, we are not conscious of how we impact on our partner.  Ann was acutely sensitive to the ways in which Steve’s detachment affected her, but hadn’t a clue that Steve felt a similar sense of rejection because of her lack of attention toward him.

Conversely, Steve felt hurt that Ann seemed disinterested in him, but had no idea that his athletic pursuits left Ann feeling rejected.   Furthermore, neither of them recognized that their giving up by no longer pursuing each other was viewed by both of them as the ultimate sign of not caring.  Steve and Ann’s myopia was the result of too narrowly focused observations.  They missed the bigger picture – how their interactions meshed into an interlocking grid.

Now think about your own relationship.  Are there times when you know your partner is to blame for things gone wrong?   Do you place full blame on his or her shoulders?  If you were to complain to a friend about your partner’s actions, would it be reminiscent of the scientists hypothesizing about the “sick” rabbits?   Do yourself a favor.  When you think about a difficulty you and your partner are having, broaden out your microscope.  See how what your partner does triggers your actions and in turn, how your actions prompt your partner to respond in particular ways.  Just remember, that seeing it this way is arbitrary and it could just as easily start the other way around- how what YOU do prompts your partner to respond to you and in turn, you react. Remember, you are two pieces of a puzzle. A doesn’t cause B, A leads to B which leads to C, which leads to D, and so on. The good news about all of this is that either of you can decide to change your actions and therefore, the entire interaction will change! Presto, chango! Try it.

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | View Comments

Video 629 – Divorce Remedy: Marital Satisfaction Guaranteed – Marriage Uncensored with Dave & Christie


Posted in Uncategorized | View Comments

X-treme Reminders

avalanche1 Several days ago, despite chilly temperatures and windy conditions, I decided to take a hike on the Mt. Sanitas trail in Boulder, Colorado,   a popular hiking spot for locals and visitors alike. If you’ve ever been to Boulder, you probably know that Boulderites are an unusually friendly breed; They’re outgoing, kind and quite willing to share openly with anyone genuinely interested. So, I knew I would not be out of order when, noticing the rugged-looking man on crutches with a deep wound on one leg, I allowed my New York curiosity and outspokenness to get the best of me and ask, “What happened to you? Did you fall off of a motorcycle or bike?” He looked at me, smiled and proceeded to tell me the story behind his sorry-looking leg, a story that has stayed with me for days.

“No,” he said, “it wasn’t a motorcycle or a bike. I got caught in an avalanche six weeks ago.” I’ve been in Boulder for four and a half years. I’ve grown accustomed to the locals’ love jones for the Great Outdoors and their active lifestyles. Torrential rain, blizzards, hurricane force winds or unseasonal ice storms fail to slow people down; they continue hiking, biking, skiing, climbing, sledding, skateboarding, all the “ings” anyone can imagine. In fact, although roads aren’t plowed around here after big snows, the bike paths are, first thing in the morning, I might add. Still, I had never met anyone caught in an avalanche.

Despite my awareness of the growing knot in my stomach just picturing his plight, I just had to know more. So, in the same way that children might hold their hands over their eyes while watching scary movies, I inquired, “You were in an avalanche? What happened?” He told me that he had been skiing in the back country on fresh snow and he knew that the risk of avalanche was high. Nonetheless, he had skied dangerous territory many times before and he reassured himself that everything would be ok. He started out with a buddy, but his friend skied ahead and he was alone when the deafening thunder roared behind him. Instantly, he knew it was an avalanche and recalled all the training he had taken to prepare for this unlikely moment. “Swim,” he told himself. “Do the back stroke,” an instruction that ultimately saved his life. Within moments, he was pushed forward by unspeakable momentum and saw that he was just about to crash head-on into a tree. Then suddenly, silence. Trapped in snow up to his neck, he had managed to keep his arms up and was somehow able to reach the radio he carried with him for emergencies. He radioed his friend, saying, “I’ve got a problem.” As someone who can get stressed out when a newly polished nail breaks, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Uh, that’s a bit of an understatement.” He went on to tell me that when friends and emergency staff rescued him, it was clear that his leg had swollen up to many times its normal size, requiring immediate surgery, skin grafts and who knows what else.

But here he was on crutches, on a cool March day, hiking up a steep trail, determined to make it to the top. His determination, rather than the altitude, took my breath away. I was fascinated by his resilience and the matter-of-fact manner in which he shared his story. I could not overcome the temptation to ask him how he was doing now. He started to tell me about the recovery of his scars, the grafts and the complicated reconnection of veins and arteries. But I interrupted and said, “No, how are you doing,?” this time pointing to my head. I wanted to know how he was recovering emotionally from a potentially traumatic experience. His response was yet another reminder that what happens in life is not nearly as important as the meaning we ascribe to what happens.

Like many others who have near-death experiences, he felt that the avalanche was a blessing in disguise. It prompted him to think long and hard about his life, his priorities and the choices he had been making on a daily basis. He mentioned that prior to the accident, he had worked long hours, was on the road a lot and was not particularly emotionally present when at home. He talked about the ways in which his drive to succeed had taken precious time away from family and friends. In particular, he sorely missed his kids. Having come face-to-face with a powerful reminder of the fleeting and transitory nature of life, he decided to make significant changes- he would appreciate the blessings in his life, cut back his hours and spend more time with the people he loves. Thanking him for sharing his story, I wished him a speedy recovery and continued my hike downhill.

As I neared my car, I couldn’t shake the image of this man getting trapped neck-deep in snow. But I also couldn’t stop thinking about his happy countenance and grateful spirit. Suddenly, a verse in an old Joni Mitchell song popped into my head- “.. Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone?…” Vowing to use this chance encounter with the man on the mountain as a reminder to live each day more fully, still, I was more than just a little relieved that some of life’s most important lessons are vicarious.

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

Posted in Uncategorized | View Comments

The Marriage Map

As a long-time observer of relationships, I can tell you that, like children, marriages go through different developmental stages and predictable crises. But because people are unfamiliar with the normal hills and valleys of marriage, these predictable transitional periods are often misunderstood, causing over-reactions. Those who manage to weather these universal stormy periods usually come out the other side with greater love and commitment to their spouses. That’s why I want to offer you a Marriage Map.

Stage One- Passion prevails

Head over heels in love, you can’t believe how lucky you are to have met your lover. Much to your amazement, you have so much in common: you enjoy the same hobbies, music, restaurants and movies. You can finish each other’s sentences. When you pick up the phone to call your partner, he or she is already on the line calling you. When little, annoying things pop up, they’re dismissed and overlooked.

At no other time in your relationship is your feeling of well being and physical desire for each other as intense as it is during this romantic period. The newness and excitement of the relationship stimulates the production of chemicals in your bodies that increase energy, positive attitudes and heighten sexuality and sensuality. While in this naturally produced state of euphoria, you decide to commit to spending the rest of their lives together. And marry, you do. But soon, your joy gives way to an inevitable earth-shattering awakening; marriage isn’t at all what you expected it to be.

Stage Two- What was I thinking?

In some ways, stage two is the most difficult because it is here that you experience the biggest fall. After all, how many miles is it from bliss to disillusionment? Millions. For starters, reality sets in. The little things start to bother you. You realize that your spouse has stinky breath in the morning, spends way too long on the toilet, leaves magazines and letters strewn on the kitchen counter, and never wraps food properly before it’s put in the refrigerator.

Although you once thought you and your spouse were kindred spirits, you now realize that there are many, many differences between you. You’re confused. You argue about everything. When you remind yourself you made a life-long commitment, you start to understand the real meaning of eternity.

Ironically, it is in the midst of feeling at odds with your once kindred spirit that you are faced with making all sorts of life-altering decisions, such as whether and when to have children, where to live, who will support the family, who will handle the bills, how your free time will be spent, how in-laws fit in to your lives, and who will do the cooking. Just at the time when a team spirit would have come in mighty handy, spouses often start to feel like opponents. So they spend the next decade or so trying to get their partners to change, which triggers stage three.

Stage Three- Everything would be great if you changed

In this stage of marriage, most people believe that there are two ways of looking at things, your spouse’s way and your way, also known as the Right Way. And rather than brainstorm creative solutions, couples often battle tenaciously to get their partners to admit they are wrong. That’s because every point of disagreement is an opportunity to define the marriage. Over time, both partners dig in their heels deeper and deeper.

Now is the time when many people face a fork in the marital road. Three choices become apparent. Convinced they’ve tried everything, some people give up. They tell themselves they’ve fallen out of love or married the wrong person and they divorce. Other people resign themselves to the status quo and decide to lead separate lives. But there are still others who decide that it’s time to begin to investigate healthier and more satisfying ways of interacting. Although the latter option requires a major leap of faith, those who take this leap are the fortunate ones because the best of marriage is yet to come.

Stage Four- That’s just the way s/he is

In stage four, we finally come to terms with the fact that we are never going to see eye-to-eye with our partners about everything and we have to figure out what we must do to live more peaceably. We look to others for suggestions; we seek religious counsel, talk to close friends and family, attend marital therapy, read self-help books, or take a relationship seminar. Those of us who are more private look inward and seek solutions there.

We more readily forgive our spouses for their hardheadedness, and recognize that we aren’t exactly easy to live with either. When disagreements occur, we make more of an effort to put ourselves in our partner’s shoes. We recognize that, as with everything in life, we have to accept the good with the bad. Fights happen less frequently and when they occur, they’re not as intense or as emotional as in the earlier years of marriage. And because we’re smart enough to have reached this stage, we reap the benefits of the fifth, and final stage.

Stage Five- Together, at last

It is really a tragedy that half of all couples who wed never get to stage five, when all the pain and hard work of the earlier stages really begins to pay off. Since you are no longer in a struggle to define who you are and what the marriage should be, there is more peace and harmony. You start “liking” your spouse again.

By the time you reach stage five, you have a shared history. And although you’d both agree that marriage hasn’t been easy, you feel proud that you’ve weathered the storms. You appreciate your partner’s sense of commitment to making your marriage last. You feel more secure about yourself as a person and you begin to appreciate the differences between you and your spouse. And what you don’t appreciate, you find greater acceptance for. If you have children, they’re older and more independent, allowing you to focus on your marriage again, like in the old days. And you start having “old day feelings” again. You have come full circle.

I’m certain that if more couples realized that there really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, they’d be more willing to tough it out through the downpour. The problem is, most people fool themselves into thinking that whatever stage they are in at the moment, is where they will be forever. But it’s important to remember that nothing lasts forever. There are seasons to everything in life, including marriage. The wiser and more mature you become, the more you realize this. The more you realize this, the more time you and your spouse spend hanging out in stage five. Together again, at last.

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

Read More of Michele’s Articles

Copyright 2009 Michele Weiner-Davis. All rights reserved.

Bookmark and Share

Posted in Uncategorized | View Comments

Getting Through to the Man You Love

Posted in Uncategorized | View Comments

How to Choose a Marital Therapist

It amazes me that most people decide to end their marriages without seeking professional help. The decision of whether to divorce or not is probably the most important decision anyone will ever make. Yet, the fact remains that only a minority of people in the throes of marital problems receive marriage counseling.

Truth be told, seeking professional advice for your marital problems is no guarantee things will improve. In fact, many people have told me that their so-called marriage therapy even made things worse. Most therapists are well-meaning, but not always qualified to do marital therapy. That’s why I want to offer some guidelines for you to consider should you seek professional help to prevent divorce.

  • Make sure your therapist has received specific training and is experienced in marital therapy. Too often, therapists say they do couples therapy or marital therapy if they have two people sitting in the office. This is incorrect. Marital therapy requires very different skills than doing individual therapy. Individual therapists usually help people identify and process feelings. They assist them in achieving personal goals. “How do you feel about that,?” is their mantra.

Couples marriage counselors, on the other hand, need to be skilled at helping people overcome the differences that naturally occur when two people live under the same roof. They need to know what makes a marriage tick. A therapist can be very skilled as an individual therapist and be clueless about helping couples change. For this reason, don’t be shy. Ask your therapist about his or her training and experience.

  • Make sure your therapist is biased in the direction of helping you find solutions to your marital problems rather than helping you leave your marriage when things get rocky. Feel free to ask about the therapist’s feelings about the point at which s/he sees divorce to be a viable alternative. Your therapist’s response will be very revealing.
  • You should feel comfortable and respected by your therapist. You should feel that he or she understands your perspective and feelings. If your therapist sides with you or your spouse, that’s not good. No one should feel ganged up on. If you aren’t comfortable with something your therapist is suggesting- like setting a deadline to make a decision about your marriage- say so. If your therapist honors your feedback, that’s a good sign. If not, leave.
  • The therapist’s own values about relationships definitely play a part in what he or she does and is interested in when working with you. Since there are few universal rules for being and staying in love, if your therapist insists that there is only one way to have a successful marriage, find another therapist.

Also, although some people think that their therapist is able to tell when a person should stop trying to work on their marriage, therapists really don’t have this sort of knowledge. If they say things like, “It seems that you are incompatible,” or “Why are you willing to put up with this,?” or “It is time to move on with your life,” they are simply laying their own values on you. This is an unethical act, in my opinion.

  • Make sure you (and your partner) and your therapist set concrete goals early on. If you don’t, you will probably meet each week with no clear direction. Once you set goals, you should never lose sight of them. If you don’t begin to see some progress within two or three sessions, you should address your concern with your therapist.
  • It’s my belief that couples in crisis don’t have the luxury to analyze how they were raised in order to find solutions to their marital problems. If your therapist is focusing on the past, suggest a future-orientation. If he or she isn’t willing to take your lead, find a therapist who will.
  • Know that most marital problems are solvable. Don’t let your therapist tell you that change is impossible. Human beings are amazing and they are capable to doing great things- especially for people they love.
  • Most of all, trust your instincts. If your therapist is helping, you’ll know it. If he or she isn’t, you’ll know that too. Don’t stay with a therapist who is just helping you tread water. Find one who will help you swim.
  • Finally, the best way to find a good therapist is word-of-mouth. Satisfied customers say a lot about the kind of therapy you will receive. Although you might feel embarrassed to ask friends or family for a referral, you should consider doing it anyway. It increases the odds you’ll find a therapist who will really help you and your spouse.

So don’t give up on therapy, give up on bad therapy. You be the judge. There’s a lot to be gained from seeking the advice of a third party who can help you find simple solutions to life’s complicated problems. Happy divorce busting!

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

Read More of Michele’s Articles

2009 Copyright – Michele Weiner-Davis. All rights reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | View Comments

The Walkaway Wife Syndrome

walkaway1Did you know that of the over one million marriages that will end in divorce this year, two thirds to three quarters of those divorces will be filed for by women? What is this so-called, “Walk-away Wife” syndrome all about?

In the early years of marriage, women are the relationship caretakers. They carefully monitor their relationships to make sure there is enough closeness and connection. If not, women will do what they can to try to fix things. If their husbands aren’t responsive, women become extremely unhappy and start complaining about everything under the sun… things that need to get done around the house, responsibilities pertaining to the children, how free time is spent and so on. Unfortunately, when women complain, men generally retreat and the marriage deteriorates even more.

After years of trying unsuccessfully to improve things, a woman eventually surrenders and convinces herself that change isn’t possible. She ends up believing there’s absolutely nothing she can do because everything she’s tried hasn’t worked. That’s when she begins to carefully map out the logistics of what she considers to be the inevitable, getting a divorce.

While she’s planning her escape, she no longer tries to improve her relationship or modify her partner’s behavior in any way. She resigns herself to living in silent desperation until “D Day.” Unfortunately, her husband views his wife’s silence as an indication that “everything is fine.” After all, the “nagging” has ceased. That’s why, when she finally breaks the news of the impending divorce, her shell-shocked partner replies, “I had no idea you were unhappy.”

Then, even when her husband undergoes real and lasting changes, it’s often too late. The same impenetrable wall that for years shielded her from pain, now prevents her from truly recognizing his genuine willingness to change. The relationship is in the danger zone.

If you are a woman who fits this description, please don’t give up. I have seen so many men make amazing changes once they truly understand how unhappy their wives have been. Sometimes men are slow to catch on, but when they do, their determination to turn things around can be astounding. I have seen many couples strengthen their marriages successfully even though it seemed an impossible feat. Give your husband another chance. Let him prove to you that things can be different. Keep your family together. Divorce is not a simple answer. It causes unimaginable pain and suffering. It takes an enormous amount of energy to face each day. Why not take this energy and learn some new skills and make your marriage what you’ve wanted it to be for so long?

If you’re a man reading this and your wife has been complaining or nagging, thank her. It means she still cares about you and your marriage. She’s working hard to make your love stronger. Spend time with her. Talk to her. Compliment her. Pay attention. Take her seriously. Show her that she’s the most important thing in the world to you.

Perhaps your wife is no longer open to your advances because she’s a soon-to-be walkaway wife. If so, read the posts on the divorcebusting.com messageboard. Don’t crowd her. Don’t push. Be patient. If you demonstrate you can change and she still has eyes… and a heart, you might just convince her to give your marriage another try.

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

Read More of Michele’s Articles

2009 Copyright – Michele Weiner-Davis. All rights reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized | View Comments

Too Broke to Break Up

Too Broke to Break Up Call me an optimist, but in the midst of all the horrendous economic news, I see a silver lining.  Despite people’s lives being threatened by job loss, foreclosures and having trouble making ends meet, increasing numbers of couples are opting to stay together and make their marriages work.   Why? Because they have to, that’s why.  Couples simply don’t have enough money to hire attorneys, engage in protracted legal battles or even live in separate quarters.  In short, they’re staying together for the sake of the cash.  “Unromantic, bad reason to stick it out,” you say? Maybe, but don’t jump to hasty conclusions. Although financial hardship can’t be the only glue holding two people together, it can certainly be a place to start. 

I wish I had a dollar for each time a couple in my practice decide to stay together simply for pragmatic reasons- the sake of the kids, professional reasons, fear of being alone or even lack of motivation to begin divorce proceedings- and over time, things in their marriage improve to the point where there is a strong sense of relief that they narrowly averted marital disaster. I’d be independently wealthy if I had. But don’t just take my word for it.

In Maggie Gallagher’s well-respected and comprehensive book, The Case for Marriage, she highlights an interesting study that supports the idea of slowing things down when considering divorce. Couples who report that their marriages were at the bottom of the scale on marital satisfaction were asked to rate their marriages again five years later. The study found that 86% of these couples reported high marital satisfaction scores. Why the changes? They weren’t completely sure, however, it appears that hanging in there for better or for worse, not to mention for richer or poorer, can be a wait well worth its while.

So, I, for one, am all for speed bumps on the road to divorce. But make no mistake, I’m not proposing that people stay together and be miserable. I’m just convinced that troubled marriages can transform into a great ones which may just be the biggest payoff of all.

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | View Comments

"Why Can't You Say It This Way?" | Psychology Today Blogs

say it this way

Do you ever find yourself in the midst of heated conversation when, all of a sudden, your partner says something that just takes your breath away? S/he might as well stop talking at that point because you are no longer listening to a word being said. All you hear is that little voice inside your head bellowing, “I can’t believe he just said that,” “She is such a jerk.” You lick your wounds and prepare your retort.

But as you mull things over, you realize, “It’s not what he’s saying, it’s how he’s saying it,” or “If she would just word it differently, I might be able to respond less defensively.” So, in your effort to resurrect the conversation, you tell your spouse, “Why can’t you just say it this way,?” and you proceed to reword the statement in such a way that it feels less toxic. And just when you think you should receive the Nobel Peace prize for your obvious communication acumen, your spouse replies with an ungrateful, “Why do you always try to tell me what to say and how to say it,?” or “Since you know what I should be saying, why don’t you just have a conversation by yourself?”

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

If you’re someone who tries to educate your spouse as to the best way to approach you, you want to be sure to hit the “share this” button below so that you can get the word out to him or her that at least one expert agrees with you. If you, on the other hand, are someone who feels offended that your spouse always seems to be trying to put words into your mouth, please read on. This could be marriage-saving advice.

I have worked with several couples last week whose patterns of communication closely resemble the example offered above. In trying to get his wife to use what therapists refer to as “I-messages,” a strategy that assumes personal responsibility for feelings and leads to less defensiveness, one man said, “I wish you would stop saying that I’m controlling when I ask you to spend less time on the phone at night. Instead, why can’t you say, ‘When you tell me to get off the phone at night, I feel controlled by you.’ I could handle that. But when you tell me that I try to control you and everything you do, I get really angry. I don’t try to control you even if you think I do. My being controlling is not why I want you to spend less time on the phone.” “Well put,” I thought, but apparently his wife thought otherwise. In fact, she took his suggestion as further evidence that he was manipulating.

Chances are, even if you’re the sort who detests when your spouse “tells you what to say,” you might see the logic in the previous example. It just makes good sense that people should take responsibility for their feelings rather than ascribe malicious intent to their partner’s actions. But consider the next example and see if you can understand why things can get a bit more ambiguous.

A woman in my practice asked her husband not use a particular word that for her, was emotionally-laden. But her husband felt that his choice of words best described his feelings and was unwilling to use a less inflammatory alternative. Furthermore, he didn’t like being told what to do. Suffice it to say, their conversation didn’t go too well.

Language is an extremely powerful tool. The words we choose can mean the difference between loving, constructive conversations which result in real intimacy, or verbal competitions ending in misunderstanding, emotional distance, and even divorce. With that in mind, the next time you hear, “Why can’t you say it this way,” remind yourself that your spouse is not saying, “If you want to talk to me, remember, I am the playwright. Your only job is to memorize your lines. Don’t improvise,”-that’s not what this plea is about. Your spouse is really saying, “Please be gentle. Say what you need to say in a way that I can hear you and not become defensive.” Then, honor the request. Back up a step or two and try again- even if you think your spouse is over-reacting. Do it as an experiment. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

Posted in Uncategorized | View Comments

The NEW New Year's Resolution

calendar1There’s a saying, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” It’s true, which makes setting New Year’s resolutions a very pragmatic activity. But if you’re like most people, as you’re shifting into that, “turning-over-a-new-leaf mode” and thinking about ways to improve your life, your mind starts to meander to those ten extra pounds you’ve been lugging around or those cigarettes you’ve been smoking despite the inconvenience of having to go outside in freezing temperatures or that urge that has been creeping up on you every evening to have just one more night cap. And when you’re done thinking about all the vices you should quit, you check your calendar to see if this will be the year that you finally take that finance class over at the local community college. There’s no question about it, you want to be thinner, richer, healthier and smarter.

But the truth is, when nearly one out of every two marriages ends in divorce, why is it that people are so busy worshipping the Personal Improvement God/dess rather than focusing on the improvements we can make to our important relationships? Why don’t spouses sit down together and truly think about where they want to be six months or a year from now, setting relationship-oriented goals that can make marriages richer, healthier and longer lasting? Why not forego the cash you’d be shelling out for a Personal Trainer and get some Interpersonal Training to make your marriage more buff? And if this seems like a foreign idea, I’m going to help you out a bit. I will give you some tips for setting Relationship Resolutions for 2009. Ready?

You should do this exercise with your partner. Commit your responses to writing. Start by asking yourselves:

What are you hoping to change or improve about your marriage?

Make sure that your goals are positively stated so that they are requests for change rather than complaints

When I ask couples what they’re hoping to improve about their marriages, they usually reply with a complaint. For example, I hear, “I wish my husband weren’t so sloppy.” Criticisms typically result in defensiveness which as you undoubtedly know, leads to unnecessary escalation and unrewarding problem-solving effots. Plus, if your husband being “less sloppy” were to be the goal, you are still focusing on the problem- sloppiness. Instead, it is much more solution-oriented to ask yourself, “When my husband becomes less sloppy, what will he be doing instead? What will replace the messiness?” Your response to this question will be a request for change rather than a complaint. For example, you may think, “When my husband becomes less sloppy, he will pick up is wet towel from the floor” or “He will empty the dishwasher in the evening.” Watching for helpfulness rather than scanning for sloppiness can go a long way to changing relationship dynamics.

Make sure your responses are action-oriented

Too often people have vague or half-baked goals. They say, “I want you to be more affectionate,” or “Our marriage needs to be more exciting,” or “Why can’t you just show a little respect?” Unfortunately, everyone has his or her own definition of “affectionate,” “excitement,” or “respect.” If you want your spouse to try to hit the mark, your expectations have to be clear. As much as you might love your spouse to be a mind reader, there really is no such thing. So, if your goal is to have your spouse be more affectionate, you need to use action-oriented words to explain what you need. Say things like, “I want you to hug me without being sexual,” or “I would really like it if you would sit next to me on the couch when I watch television, even if you’re not all that interested in what I’m watching,” or “Stop what you’re doing when I come home from work and give me a kiss.” The clearer you can be, the better.

Make sure your goals are do-able in a short period of time

One mistake people make is setting goals that are too grandiose and because of that, they run out of steam before their goals are accomplished. Since nothing breeds success like success, you need to break your goals down to small do-able chunks, things you and your spouse can accomplish in a week or two. Then, when you see small changes, you will feel inspired to continue the hard work you’re doing to make things better. Let me give you an example.

I worked with a couple who spent very little time together and, as a result, had little in common. That’s why they sought my help. They felt they had grown apart. When I asked them what they were hoping to change or improve about their relationship, they told me that they wanted to feel intensely in love again and feel more connected something they hadn’t felt for a very long time. I assured them that that was an admirable goal, but I wondered what might happen in the next week or two that would be a sign that they were moving in the right direction. They decided that if they went out on a date night once each week, spent at least ten minutes each night talking about their day, and gave each other 2 or 3 daily compliments, they would feel they were making a hearty effort to get their marriage back on track.

As you think about your goals, ask yourself that same question, “What would be one or two small things that my partner and I could do this week that would make us both feel that we are on track to accomplishing our goal?”
Goal-setting is nothing new or earth-shattering. Successful people in all walks of life know the wisdom of a clear and concrete vision for the things they want to achieve. But setting goals to bring more love, passion and connectedness into your life may not be something you’ve ever done before. So before the clock strikes twelve on December 31st, why not create your Relationship Resolutions and make 2009 the best ever for you and your partner? What do you think?

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

Posted in Uncategorized | View Comments