I really like this one. Another argument for parents doing anything they can to improved their marriage and working better together to raise kids.


What Kids Want Us to Know

This one is hot off the press, and if you read this blog long enough, you will undoubtedly learn many more of the creative ways in which child clients inform me of this tightly held belief:

My parents are whacked. Dharma, age 15

No one will be surprised that I hear some version of this several times a week. The kids who share this sentiment vary in age, diagnosis, gender, etc. Still, there is only a handful of reasons children believe their parents are whacked or crazy or irrational or psycho. Dharma’s comment reflects her frustration over her parents’ seeming inability to agree about the rules of the household. She frequently finds herself uncertain about whose rule to follow, so she does what any self-respecting teenager would do; she follows the rule that suits her best in the moment. This sometimes results in conflict between Dharma and one parent or the other, and…

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When Parents Are at War

What Kids Want Us to Know

I am not sure where this post is going. I don’t know if there is anything I can write that will make a difference. Still, I feel led to share some insights about the impact on children of warring parents. I see this over and over in my practice – two people who at one time must have loved each other, who got married and had one or more children, and who, over time, developed such animosity toward one another that their anger suffuses everything they do. Some of them ended their marriages; others did not. Married or not, they end up in my office expressing concern about a child who is depressed or anxious or defiant or failing in school or fighting on the playground. Some of the kids have a great deal of difficulty talking about the tension in their homes; others, like 17-year-old Rae, put it right…

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The four best (almost) free things you can do to fix your marriage

Nancy and Michael were aware they had problems but did nothing about it because of one of the most common reasons–they did not think they could afford it. They were unwilling to take just any therapist off of their insurance plan’s list. What can a couple do about this?

There are at least four steps any couple can take that may improve their relationship satisfaction. Which of the following options you chose depends on the nature and seriousness of the problem, but these are all good options for most couples. Some are free, and some are very low cost.

Try an online couple therapy program. This online program called Our Relationship is a research study that is patterned from a well-researched approach called Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy. The program will help you understand your core problems and provide ways to stop blaming each other and seek solutions to these core issues. You can get a feel for the information provided through the link on the web age: “View a Sample Activity.” It is free, confidential, and is based on the research at several universities. The program also includes one to four telephone or Skype consultations with a therapist. The site discusses the research that supports this general approach and the background of the developers of the program, Drs. Andy Christensen and Brian Doss.

Work together on a self-help relationship book. Dr. Andy Christensen and Neil Jacobson are responsible for one of the largest and most successful research trials of couple therapy ever conducted. The approach tested, Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy, is presented in an easy-to-use format for couples in a book called Reconcilable Differences, Second Edition: Rebuild Your Relationship by Rediscovering the Partner You Love–without Losing Yourself. The volume can be bought at major book retailers online for less than $20. You’ll note that it is based on the same research as the online program above.

Respond to the challenge of infidelity. Another self-help book can help you figure out what to do when your partner cheats. The book, Getting Past the Affair: A Program to Help You Cope, Heal, and Move On, by Drs. Douglas K. Snyder, Donald H. Baucom, and Kristina Coop Gordon, does not assume that you want to stay with your partner. The first goal is to help you and your partner stop hurting one another and stabilize your relationship, the second is to figure out why the affair happened, and the third goal is decide whether to stay together or to separate. This book can also be bought for less than $20.

Attend a marriage enrichment program at your church. This is a good option for you whether or not your relationship is unhappy because it may help prevent problems in the future and simply help you enjoy your relationship more. Programs across the nation vary widely in focus and quality but here are the most important characteristics: 1) the importance of commitment to your relationship is emphasized (see this blog post and this blog about the importance of commitment), 2)  communication skills that reduce conflict, and 3) strategies for keeping fun in your relationship. A great example of such a program is PREP.  You’ll find at the PREP site listings of program workshops presented throughout the US.  Although these programs do have fees they tend to be cost effective compared to individual or couple therapy.

There is definitely help for couples who do not have the money or time to pursue couple therapy if they are willing to commit to understanding their issues and working on their relationship. I look forward to feedback about readers’ experiences with these options.

Check out Coming Back Together: A Guide to Successful Reintegration After Your Partner Returns from Military Deployment, by Steven L. Sayers, Ph.D.