Tag Archive: marriage

Jan 21

Lucky Marriage

Lucky Marriage - Ivan

What is a lucky marriage? Last week we were talking to a man who has had a year of challenges in his marriage. Ivan is a thoughtful and articulate man we have been seeing for about a year, and during that time the subject of his marriage has come up many times. He suggested that …

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Jul 23

Friends and Family Don’t Understand – Bipolar Communication Problems


Sometimes those without the challenges of bipolar neurochemistry simply “don’t get it” – how moods can shift abruptly and dramatically, and often without warning, or with subtle hints of the mood shift about to confront you  – and at what might be the slightest trigger a sudden onslaught of  overwhelming sensations due to hypersensitivity to stimuli, someone chewing can sound …

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Feb 27

Helping Your Spouse

You have gotten help for your depression. You have seen a therapist or psychiatrist and spent long hours working to understand and improve your situation. Your spouse, who has been there for you during this process, has not. And now you are confronting the almost inevitable realization that he, or she, is really uncomfortable in …

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Nov 27

Endurance of Pain and Suffering

He knew how to handle pain. You had to lie down with pain, not draw back away from it. You let yourself sort of move around the outside edge of pain like with cold water until you finally got up your nerve to take yourself in hand. Then you took a deep breath and dove …

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Apr 25

The Big Fight

How is it that so many couples end up having knock down, drag out fights?  How can seemingly rational people end up saying things that just don’t make any sense? Several people that I’ve seen recently have told me a similar story.  As in every relationship, they have had certain long-standing issues in their relationships, …

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Apr 03

New Spouse by Friday

I’ve been working with a very successful attorney who has been struggling to find a way of staying in his marriage for a couple of years. The heart of the problem is that his wife had a serious health problem (which is now resolved), but through the process of dealing with this health problem she  became depressed and …

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Mar 10

Creative Tension

I was inspired to write today’s post after watching a video sent out by a colleague as her “Valentine’s Day gift” to a group of mental health professionals interested  in women’s issues. The video was from the TED series (strongly recommended) and had to do with the challenge of having a long-term passionate relationship. The …

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Mar 06

Hot Button Issues in a Relationship


Dealing with a partner with emotional or psychological issues is tricky. We spent some time today trying to figure out an approach that would work for one woman and her partner. This is what we came up with. It may help you if you are navigating in turbulent waters in your relationship. The link will …

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Feb 17

The “Pause” Button

Do you know the feeling of desperate urgency in a conversation with a close friend or romantic partner? The sense that you have to defend yourself from attack, or make a very important point? This feeling is often a signal that it is a good time to use the “pause” button in the conversation. The “pause” button …

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Jan 11

Mismatched Energy

The wife of one of the people I work with sent me a short note saying that her husband was energized (not quite hypomanic), and she was finding it hard to cope with his constant animation and enthusiasm. It got me thinking about scale and how we constantly change the way we talk based on …

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Jan 04

Relationship Fear

I have been working with a couple of young women who seem to be unable to move beyond a recently ended relationship with a young man.  In both cases, there’s no question that the young man is coming back, and yet their thoughts keep turning back to trying to analyze the failed relationship, wondering what …

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Dec 27


For most of us there is nothing more important than the quality of our closest relationships. In sometimes frustrating ways, many of us notice that our close relationships seem to follow familiar patterns. Attachment theory derives from the work of John Bowlby, who observed that separated infants would go to remarkable lengths (crying, clinging, frantically searching) …

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Nov 26

Family Scapegoat

I had a conversation with two women today about their relationship with their husbands and children. They often find themselves feeling scapegoated for things that go wrong in the household. While I was talking with them, I recalled many other women who have described similar experiences. I started to wonder how this happens, and what …

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Nov 20

What’s the Hurry

It’s been a very busy week for mental health professionals in the Bay Area. The holidays are ramping up. And it has been dark and rainy. Many people are feeling a great deal of stress. Last night, we got a call from a wonderful woman who we’ve been working with for several months. She said …

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Nov 06

Aikido for Bad Behavior

We had an opportunity to visit Japan several times, over the course of a decade working with Japanese psychiatrists to improve how Japanese psychiatric hospitals work with potentially violent patients.  During one of those trips, we came across a wonderful story that has stuck with us ever since.  It is the story of a young …

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Oct 03

Therapists Can Be So Annoying: Feeling Like You’re On Celebrity Roast

Therapists Have you ever found yourself all of a sudden the guest of honor at celebrity roast special. Sometimes that is what it is like being a therapist…. or husband… or wife… employee… boss…. or you name it… What do you do? You probably know that being defensive is not going to work. But how can …

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Sep 18

Codependent no more

We have never been big fans of the way the term “codependent” evolved in the non-professional world into a way of describing almost any show of compassion for someone with difficult problems. On the other hand, after years of struggle (and, yes, our own therapy) we finally came up with our own rules of thumb …

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Sep 12

Misunderstandings: Feeling and Thinking

Misunderstandings. There are so many ways that we can misunderstand each other. We like the Myers Briggs for its non-pathologizing approach to understanding and describing the differences among human beings. Yesterday we were talking to a young woman who told us of a “classic” misunderstanding that potentially could have had a catastrophic outcome. The young …

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Aug 21

Men are from Mars: How Gender Affects Communication

Men and women sometimes don’t seem to be speaking the same language, and this is certainly true when it comes to discussing emotions. A young woman we have been coaching was thinking about a conversation she needed to have with her father about something that she was sure was going to be very upsetting to …

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Aug 17

Parenting and Oxytocin

Those of us who have been parents probably remember moments of incredible attachment to our children. Times when we were happy to just hold them while they were sleeping, and nothing else in the world seemed important. It is a state that is somewhat like the experience of new love. Recent research suggests that part …

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