Archive for October, 2013

Marriage: Baby Boomers Fail, Youngers Can Succeed If…

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

Baby Boomers are an audacious group – gutsy life changers.  They spear headed the Sexual Revolution, took on the challenges of the Vietnam War, and have become pioneers in the anti-aging battle.  They, too, have challenged traditional marriage styles.  Over time they increasingly lived together before marriage, many had “Open Marriages”, and now are getting divorced in greater numbers than previous generations.

This article examines who of the Baby Boomers are getting divorced and the rationales supplied.  The information shared here primarily comes from researcher Xenia Montenegro via CNN. According to Ms. Montenegro the Baby Boomers most at risk for divorce are:

  1. The college-educated-but-married-younger-in-the-1970’s crowd.  College- educated Boomers are more likely to grow weary of their partners than those with a high school education.  Also, those that married young are more likely to divorce.
  2. The marginally unhappy couples who wanted happy kids. Montenegro says “these couples have waited nicely until their kids were out of the house, saw an opportunity to separate and “have their me time.”
  3. Couples that included Superwomen whose lives turned out differently than they were brought up to think they would be.
  4. The what-happened couple.  Some tried to reconnect but had trouble doing it.  They had nothing in common by then and can’t find each other.
  5. The really old couple.  According to the Office of National Statistics, the rate of divorce is dropping in every age group except the over-60’s.
  6. The trophy hunters. Self explanatory in its various forms and practices.

As a licensed Marriage and Family therapist I can attest to the reality of the six types listed above. Divorce is never easy and usually painful, at least for one of the partners – and usually for the children.

My wish list for people who want an enduring marriage, sans divorce:

  1. Don’t marry young. You don’t know yourself very well and how you may change in the future and sure don’t know what you need in a marriage partner through the various developmental life stages ahead of you.
  2. Seek pre-marriage counseling from a trained therapist.  Such a therapist has a number of resources to assist a couple know more about their short and long range compatability.
  3. Make sure you have a “marriage centered” relationship, not “parent centered”.  You need to continue to nurture your relationship over time and not just focus on raising your kids.
  4. Be attuned to your life changes and needs and that of your partner.  Have quality communication enabling the two of you to stay in sync and connected. Commitment, flexibility, and adaptability to your evolving life can make a difference.
  5. Continue to find things in common that you can share in your life style.

My purpose in writing this is to help Baby Boomers understand their current situation as well as enlightening others who may want to avoid the pitfalls of those Boomers who became overly caught up in the “it’s all about me and my happiness” syndrome.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

How To Overcome Procrastination!

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Procrastination is one of the maladies of humankind.  People have things to do.  People say that they will do that thing.  Many people do not do that thing – or they stall for an inappropriate period of time.


There are three types of people:

  1. People that make it happen
  2. People that watch it happen
  3. People that wonder, “what the heck happened?

Which type are you?


Successful people make it happen.  They “git er done.”  They know what needs to be done and they “just do it.”  They don’t have to be reminded or nagged.  They are responsible.  These people:

  1. Assess the situation – perhaps with help
  2. See what needs to be done.
  3. See the options available
  4. Set priorities
  5. Make decisions
  6. Commit to a time when the task will be accomplished.
  7. Suit up and show up to the task at hand – and finish it.
  8. Be accountable. They do what they say they will do, when they said they would.


Procrastinators are not as successful as they could be.  They have a character flaw. They lose the respect of others because they cannot be counted on.  You cannot trust a procrastinator.  Procrastinators cause others to be irked at them. They frustrate themselves and others by not doing what needs to be done in a timely manner.


Do you procrastinate?  It may be a difficult question to answer.  Ask those around you such as your spouse, kids, extended family members, friends, business associates.  Can you be counted on?  Can you count on these others to not procrastinate?


Hopefully this article will help you look at yourself to see if you procrastinate or if others in your life do. Successful people do not procrastinate.  Hopefully, optimal health, which includes good nutrition and exercise, is a commitment that you have made to yourself.  Perhaps this heightened awareness will enable you to be a “git er done” person!


Questions To Evaluate If Spousal Needs Are Being Met!

Friday, October 18th, 2013

A client that I was counseling recently gave me a book that she said was helpful to her and her husband for understanding  and meeting each other’s needs. The name of the book is HIS NEEDS, HER NEEDS BY William F. Harley, Jr. I would like to share the categories listed in the book and get your take on them. The objective of this analysis is to assess how important a given need is to you and how well it is being met by your spouse.  Want to give it a try?

The needs listed in the book follow:

1.Affection. (verbal and nonverbal expressions of love and care, such as hugs, kisses, gifts, cards, and phone calls).

2. Sexual Fulfillment. (quantity and quality of sexual expression.)

3. Conversation. (quantity and quality of shared communication.)

4. Recreational Companionship. (how often and what kinds of shared fun activities).

5. Honesty and Openness. (trusting and non defensive sharing).

6. Attractiveness of Spouse. (overall physical condition and presentation style).

7. Financial Support. (money that is earned on behalf of the family).

8. Domestic Support. (participating in the things needed to take care of the home).

9. Family Commitment. (involved in quality family time).

10. Admiration. (feeling very respected and appreciated).

(You may want to add other categories beyond these that may be high on your list of needs)

For each category you are to rate it on a 1 – 6 basis.  0-1 = I have no need for this category.                   2 -4 = I have a moderate need for this category. 5 -6 = I have a great need for this category.

Next, you are to rate your satisfaction as to your spouse’s meeting each need.  -3 to -1 = I am extremely dissatisfied. 0 = I am neither satisfied or dissatisfied. +1 to +3 = I am extremely satisfied.

After you have completed these ratings rank these needs in the order of importance to you.  Which needs do you most want to have satisfied?

In conclusion, what have you come up with as you examine the needs that are most important to you and the degree to which they are being met? Are you ready to have a conversation with your spouse about this assessment?  Would you like your spouse to do this exercise also? If the answer is “No” to either question, what is that saying about your relationship?

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

As An “Adult”, What Kind Of Relationship Do You Have With Your Parent(s)? Why?

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

An issue that I am increasingly seeing in my practice is the estrangement of adult parents and their adult children.  I hear both sides of this situation from the at odds parties. It usually is a reflection of intense anger or deep hurt.  Why are these family members not close?

The Parent-Child relationship goes through many phases during the course of shared time.  Marriage and family dynamics either create an enduring closeness between parent and child or such breakdowns and detours result in divisive estrangement.

Some typical scenarios that result in such estrangement are:

  1. Dad and Mom’s poor marriage – yet they stay together.  Kids suffer from this stressful environment and later often have significant resentment toward one or both parents. There are many variants to this family experience.
  2. Dad and Mom divorce.  Research is conclusive in showing the negative impact on kids whose parents divorce.  Again, there are a number of variables involved.
  3. Step parent’s negative involvement in the raising of the kids. Kids often have a lot of resentment toward the parent who brings in a marriage partner who has a hand in the parenting process.
  4. Poor parenting.  Parents who are overly strict or overly lenient will feel the repercussions of these styles when the kids get older. Sometimes one parent chooses to be a “friend” to the kids instead of being a parent.
  5. A critical incident. Significant abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual), serious illness or death involving a member of the family can lead to such estrangement.
  6. Financial distress or disagreements.

These headline issues have many sub plots, twists, and turns ultimately resulting in some degree of estrangement of one or more children with one or both parents. Such family rifts can be very painful.

Family estrangements can be healed. A number of factors need to be present to effectuate such a desirable outcome.

  1. The individuals involved need to want to develop a better relationship.
  2. Each person must be willing to devote the time and energy necessary.
  3. These people must be able to be open to a healing process.
  4. All involved persons need to commit to a proven therapeutic process by a professional with expertise in such a delicate family matter.

Should the above mentioned conditions be met the process of reconciliation and re-connection can begin. A positive outcome is definitely possible.

I find that this aspect of my practice to be one of the most rewarding.  Family caring and cohesiveness is a wonderful component for one’s happiness in life. The deepest family rifts can be healed if the family members are willing to give it a try.

On a personal note, I am so grateful and fortunate that Sherry and I have a deep bond of love with each of our children. Both Kris and Brittany value and put forth the effort to ensure that our relationship is nurtured on an ongoing basis.   We appreciate that and do our best to be the best parents that we can be. The same closeness exists with our respective Mothers who we love and appreciate.  Our Fathers unfortunately died way too young. Their premature deaths are constant reminders to share as much family closeness as possible while you are still able.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”      Socrates

Have You Cut the Psychological Bond From Your Parents? It Is Stifling!

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

One of the most challenging situations that I encounter in my practice is to facilitate the cutting of a person’s psychological umbilical cord.  What is the “psychological umbilical cord” you may ask?  It is the emotional bond (“bondage”) that exists between a parent and an adult child.  This emotional bondage cord stifles and curtails a person from becoming a fully developed self capable of making independent decisions without unhealthily taking into consideration the ramifications related to his or her parent(s).

An adult with a psychological umbilical cord wrapped around his or her neck is usually a person who was not parented well. S/he probably was parented by parents who either were overly doting and over involved with regard to the child OR s/he was parented by an abusive or abandoning parent. The result from this poor parenting is an adult who never became emotionally, and sometimes physically, independent from one or both parents.

A couple of scenarios might help to illustrate the point:

The PLEASERS: these types continue to overly need to please their parents because they are used to doing that and fear that if they don’t their parents will abandon or abuse them.

The GUILT RIDDENS: these types are driven by guilt.  They feel if they do not stay overly dependent on their parents whims and wishes, they will have an overriding guilt to deal with.

The ANGRY ONES: these types stay angry at one or both parents.  Their pervasive anger keeps them oddly emotionally possessed which stifles their capacity to love.

The negative emotions of fear, guilt, and anger that are held on to keep a person weak and unhealthily bound up with parents.

Psychological bondage to parents not only stifles individual growth but also can seriously affect a marriage.  You would be surprised to know how many marriage counseling sessions I have with couples that involve one or both person’s parents as the subject matter. Parental advice, visitations, holiday plans, etc… are illustrative topics.

For many individuals and couples the parents are too much in the mix – either physically or emotionally.  These couples have not emotionally matured and have not put their marriage first.  To the extent that parents permeate emotions, decisions, or physical space

to that extent will there be significant divisive issues in the marriage. Physical and emotional boundaries are important here.

Like anything else in life balance is the key.  Ideally a child grows up to be an independent person.  S/he then meets another well suited person who also has severed the psychological umbilical cord and has become independent.  Together they form a healthy interdependent bond that is synergistic and growthful.  From this union may a strong family unit develop.

Hopefully many or most of you have cut that psychological umbilical cord and have formed a nice balanced and boundaried relationship with your parents and those of your spouse. That is the best possible combination so that the positive input of each helps to create loving relationships between a couple and between a couple and the respective parents.