Posts Tagged :

problems in marriage

“The Last Straw”
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

StrawBrokeCamelBackA fight.  An affair.  An indiscretion.  An argument.  Some event.

Suddenly, someone announces “this is over.”

You may point to that event, the moment when things seemed to turn upside down.

But that event was just that:  an event.  It was a “tipping point.”  Almost always, there was a long, slow climb to the top before you “tipped over” the summit.  The straw was being piled on, before that “last straw” broke the camel’s back.

Unfortunately, people tend to get focused on that single event, pointing to the symptom.  Not the problem.

And that makes efforts ineffective.  You are aiming at the wrong target.  Deal with the problem — not the symptom — if you want to make progress.

Listen in for how.

You Need A Plan
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“Why Are We Fighting?”
We ALL Have Issues
Save The Marriage System

We ALL Have Issues!
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

We ALL have issues!  Save your marriage.“I don’t think we should be married.”  That was “Jen’s” opening words.  “John” sat quietly beside her.

I asked her quietly, “Why do you think you shouldn’t be married?” “Because,” said Jen, “if we should be married, we would not be having problems.  We wouldn’t always be struggling.”  I sat quietly, not quite sure how to respond.

What an assumption!  Any marriage that has struggles and challenges, so Jen believed, was not right.

Something had to be fundamentally wrong if there was a struggle. That conversation happened years back.  I am no longer shocked to hear it.  In fact, I have come to see this as a major myth of marriage:  Struggle is a sign that something is wrong with a marriage, and may be a sign you should have never married in the first place.

So, let me clearly and directly dispel that myth:  100% of marriages have difficulties, challenges, issues, or whatever else you want to call it.  Every single relationship will face tough times.

Having tough times, struggles, and issues is not an indicator that you shouldn’t be married.  It is not an indication that your marriage is doomed.  It is not an indication that there is a psychological issue with you or your spouse.  It is simply the fact that you are entirely and completely normal.

“Why Can’t We Just Get Along?”

There is no more close relationship than a marriage.  The two of you have tied your lives together.  Therefore, actions taken by one are not dispassionately noticed by the other.

Spouses respond to situations differently than they might if a friend did or proclaimed the same thing.  If my good friend with limited funds buys an expensive sports car, I may have concerns, but I can look at my friend and say “Good for you!  Hope you enjoy it!”

But if my spouse did that, I would recognize the economic impact it could have upon me.  My response is likely to be far less dispassionate and much more one of concern.  My response will be partially based in self-preservation.

To say this a bit differently, because a marriage is two different people, with two different perspectives, trying to get through life together, there is going to be friction and conflict.  It is not only inevitable, it is necessary.  If a couple wants to get to a strong relationship, they must go through that friction. When couples spend all their energy “getting along,” lots of hurts and misunderstandings get brushed under the carpet.  They don’t get cleaned up, so they are just waiting there.  The pile grows bigger and bigger until the couple can’t truly see each other for the pile of garbage under the rug.

“But The Smith’s Don’t Seem To Struggle!”

Here is where this little myth really gets out of control.  We look at the image others portray and compare that with our own reality.  Reality is much more dented and knocked around than the image we show the world.  And that includes the image you show the world.

We just don’t like letting people in on our struggles.  While it is too bad we don’t find support with others, that is what happens. Don’t waste your energy comparing yourself to some other seemingly perfect couple.  They have their own struggles.

Too many “perfect couples” end up divorced.  They have either hidden their conflicts from others or from themselves.  Either way, the struggle is still there.

“It All Seems So Hopeless!”

If you want to have a perfect, conflict-free relationship, that is hopeless.

But perhaps we need to stop seeing conflict as the problem. Not solving a conflict is a problem.  Personalizing conflict is a problem.  Fighting to win is a problem.  Conflict is just a part of living in close proximity. Conflict can either be a scary event that leads to disconnection or it can be a way of creating deeper intimacy and understanding.  If conflict has always been seen as destructive, you will avoid it.

As I continued my dialogue with Jen, I discovered that her parents did their conflict in very destructive ways.  They threw things, cussed at each other, and never even solved the issue.  After years of threats, they finally divorced.  Jen learned that conflict is destructive and should be avoided at all costs.  What she did not learn, but should have, is that her parents simply did not know how to manage their conflict. From then on, her young child’s mind understood that conflict was destructive and dangerous.  Her adult mind has never been able to get beyond that.

But let me ask you a question:  does any development happen without a struggle?  A child learns to walk by falling over and over again.  A muscle gains strength by struggling against something heavier than usual.  An adult learns new skills at work by taking on something not known and mastering it. This is true with a couple.

Sure, we can grow closer through good experiences.  And those great moments of romance and connection are great! But it is the struggles and conflicts that truly mesh us together as a team.  Whether the struggle is external to the couple or between the couple, the struggle is what truly leads to growth and development. How can you be hopeful?  Give up on the false hope of a conflict-less relationship.  Accept that conflict is a normal part of the process.

And learn how to make it productive.

“So That’s It?  Live With Conflict?”

You have to live with the fact that conflict is inevitable.  But that does not mean that everyone is good at conflict.  In fact, most of us find this to be a “work in progress.”  I am sure there are those who have mastered the art of healthy conflict.  But they are rare. The rest of us have to learn skills and work to make conflict a method of growth, not of destruction.  There are some traps that make that more difficult.

“What Are The Traps About Issues?”

Trap #1:  Fight or Flight Mode.  We humans are unique among the living and breathing creatures.  We think in words.  We not only have visual memories, but we can reflect on them with language.  Which can keep us stuck in different modes. In the animal world, there are plenty of Fight/Flight/Freeze responses of animals.

Some animals are only prey, and so they have Flight/Freeze in their repertoire.  Every now and then, such a creature strikes back defensively, but is not really fighting as much as struggling to flee.  Then there are predators that will  Fight/Flight, based on whether it senses it will win or lose.  But for both animal predator and animal prey, once the event is over, the animal returns to normal behavior.

Humans, however, have the Fight/Flight/Freeze response.  But in human interactions, we are not very good at sizing up the opposition.  And on top of that, we can think about this conflict, think about past conflicts, and ponder what might happen after the conflict.

In essence, this can keep us stuck in an emotional state of fight/flight/freeze.  The adrenaline keeps on flowing, long after the conflict, as we continue to think about it. More than that, once we step into a fight/flight mode, it becomes about getting away or taking the other person down.  No longer is the subject of conflict the focus.  The focus turns to taking out the other person, at least metaphorically.

Think, for just a moment, of the many times you found yourself in the midst of an argument, and no longer are you even discussing what led to the argument!  Suddenly, past events, character issues, and anything else that comes to mind, becomes fuel for the fire.  The beginning point of the conflict is lost.  The task has turned to defeating the opponent (or getting far, far away from the opponent).  Your mind has been hijacked by the fight/flight/freeze mode.

At that point, the conflict will NOT be a tool of growth, but one of destruction and attack.

Trap #2:  Perceptions of Each Other.  People are wonderful storytellers.  We all write scripts in our minds.  Some of them are fairly true, some are very false.  None are absolutely true. In the stories I tell myself, I am the protagonist, the hero.  That is probably true for you.  When something happens, we all tend to see ourselves as a) innocent, and b) “been done wrong.”

When I was a child, my older brother and I would sometimes get into tiffs.  I lost.  My brother would, in my mind, pick on me and hurt me.  For years, I believed myself to be the innocent target of his temper.  I believed I had done nothing wrong.  One day, I began to see how I would bait him.  I was not as innocent as I would have liked to believe. We all have perceptions of other people.  Sometimes, they are somewhat accurate.  But many times, we ascribe attributes, short-fallings, faults, and character flaws to the other person.  This tends to taint our interactions.  And it certainly taints our conflicts and issues.

Remember the Attribution Error from social psychology?  The Attribution Error is simply this:  When I do something wrong, I see it as a mistake.  But when you do something wrong, I see it as a character flaw.

This colors our perceptions:  the other has issues, but we simply make mistakes.

Thanks to psychology, there are plenty of attributes you can put on someone:  they are anxious, depressed, anti-social, borderline, obsessive-compulsive, passive-aggressive, dependent, self-destructive, angry, etc., etc., etc.  Might some of that be true?  Absolutely.  But it gives us a very simple label that belies the complexities of everyone, including ourselves.  We quickly “diagnose” the other person, and then view them through that single lens.

Trap #3:  Blame/Un-responsibility.  I know, un-responsibility is not a word.  Yet I am not describing irresponsibility, as much as the unwillingness of someone to take responsibility.  Responsibility is about the ability to respond.  This is something we always have.

Yet many times, we seek to find blame.  It may be blaming a spouse or significant other.  It may be blaming how we were raised or how that spouse/S.O. was raised.  It may be about some other factor.

In the end, we all have control over two things:1.  Our attitude,
2.  Our actions.

We all get to choose our internal attitude.  Will I choose to give up or will I choose to press on?  Will I be constantly angry or will I be positive and accepting?  Will I be constantly oppositional or will I note when I am really in opposition (One is a state of disagreeing, simply to disagree.  The other is disagreeing because you truly disagree.)?  Will I be loving or will I be judgmental/angry/rejecting/distant?

You may notice that attitude leads to actions.  But they are different.  Attitude is internal.  Action is external.  Actions often demonstrate our internal attitude.  Yet attitude and actions may be disconnected.  Our task is to work on choosing attitude and making sure that action is consistent with attitude.

Before you tell me this is impossible, that I am suggesting you always be upbeat and happy, I am not.  I am suggesting that in any event, we have a choice of our attitude.  We can choose to be responsible, to decide how we will respond, regardless of the external situation.

Trap #4:  Belief That Marriage Should Make You Happy.  This is another huge one.  It is well-propagated by films, television, and fiction.  In those romantic movies/shows/novels, the marriage is the means of discovering true happiness and fulfillment.

In reality, each of us is responsible for our own happiness and life satisfaction (listen to an interview about this here).  This doesn’t mean a marriage should make you miserable, then you fight for happiness elsewhere.  It simply means that if you believe that a marriage is your path to happiness, you will be constantly disappointed and frustrated.

Marriage only works when two people are working to find satisfaction for themselves, and bring their best self into the relationship.  Contrary to Jerry Maguire’s statement in the movie, someone else does not complete you.  Waiting for that will keep any marriage stuck.

This myth gets a couple stuck for one important reason:  if you expect marriage to make you happy, to complete you, to provide you with a constant companion,  then when it doesn’t happen, you get lost.  You assume that something is wrong with the relationship.

In reality, the problem is in the expectation.

Before I am misunderstood, let me clearly state:  my goal and my hope for everyone is to have a happy marriage.  My point here is the danger in the assumption that a marriage will make someone happy, not that a marriage can’t be happy.  A marriage can certainly be happy and fulfilling.  But when the expectation that a marriage will make some happy is present, the relationship is weighted down by an unfair expectation.

I love this quote from Richard Bach:  “If your happiness depends on what somebody else does, I guess you do have a problem.”

Trap #5:  Everything Is An “Issue” These Days.  We live in a heavily psychologized culture.  Theory upon theory is proposed to explain human behavior.  Sometimes, I think we have made it much, much too complicated.

I have advanced degrees (Ph.D., in fact) in clinical skills and knowledge.  I have spent over 25 years learning, researching, and practicing how to best help people to change.  Yet when I read some of the books, I am confused.  The back-flips and side-steps proposed in “why” we do what we do is just so confusing.

In this day, everything is diagnosed, psychologized,  theorized, and wrapped up in a nice little package.  A single word describes situations.  At the same time that theories are more and more confusing, people are reduced to a simple diagnosis.  Neither are true.  Human nature is not nearly as confusing as some theories would have you believe, and people’s actions are much more complex than a single diagnosis would lead you to believe.

This is true with marriage.  We have created some very complex theories to understand the “mysteries of marriage.”  I think the complexity has only led to confusion.  (My response to simplifying how to work on a marriage is right here:  3 simple steps.)

When I was much younger, I was a magician (I still pull a few coins from the ears of children, but that is about it these days).  I learned so much about psychology through doing magic.  One central reason why magic tricks work is because people make things complicated.  I remember one trick that required one small sleight-of-hand, one very simple move.  Yet people constantly tried to use very complex explanations to tell me how the trick worked.  No engineer could create what these people explained!  All that was necessary to explain it was a simple sleight-of-hand.

The same is true with our theories.  We spend so much time trying to figure out the minutiae of human behavior and interaction that we make it a complexity that only a Ph.D. could understand.  Yet for millennia, humans have formed close relationships and sustained them for a lifetime — all without complex explanations.

More than that, as we turn everything into “issues” with connections to the past, we stop working on where to go from here.  We spend inordinate amounts of energy proposing theories of “why it happened,” but don’t often move to the real question “what to do from here.”

Understanding the past won't help you save your marriage.Do we need some understanding of what happened?  Of course.  But understanding where you have been will never help you choose where you want to go.  It will only explain where you have been.

Don’t get trapped in incessantly looking for what happened in your marriage.  Don’t spend all of your effort trying to understand the dynamics of your “issues.”  Don’t make the process too complex.

“Issues” are really points of potential growth.  They can always point the way to the next place of development in your relationship.

And since every marriage has issues, the real question is, how will you build the marriage you want to have?  How will you work through the weaknesses and shortcomings to find a better approach?  How will you build the connection between you and your spouse (even though you and every other human both wants and struggles with that deep attachment)?

I truly believe there are two approaches to change.  One is to go on an archeology dig, going back through history and digging up all the skeletons.  This can be entertained and can give a false sense of superiority by looking at the other person’s shortfallings.

Or, one can work on building.  Build a relationship, build a connection, build your self, and work on where you want to go.  Sometimes, we have to look at the past in order to decide the future.  But it is easy to get lured into a fixation on the past.  That only keeps you stuck to the same old stories that have kept you stuck before.

“So What IS Your Point?”

Point 1:  There is no deeper connection in adult life than marriage.  It drags all of our insecurities, hopes, expectations (fair and unfair), and our potential for growth, into one relationship.

Point 2:  Every marriage has issues.  The issues are not the problem.  Believing that the issues either mean you can’t stay together or that things are helpless and can’t be fixed, that is the problem.  Issues are just part of an intimate connection.  They are really opportunities to grow, as long as we don’t fear them or flee them.

Will you learn to face your relationship issues and grow beyond them?

If you are ready to move forward, please grab my Save The Marriage System right HERE.


Saving Your Marriage: What Does Pavlov Have To Do With It?
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

Remember Pavlov and his dog?  In this famous experiment,Pavlov and Saving Your Marriage Ivan Pavlov would ring a bell and then feed his dog.  He repeated this process over and over, and then he just rang the bell.  No food.  Remember the dog’s response?  He still expected the food and started salivating!

We can all be clear that Fido was not sitting there thinking “dinner bell just rung, so here comes my dinner!”  Yet that is exactly what his body was doing, getting ready for dinner.

Are we so different than the dog?  Oh, sure, we can think in words, so we can do a little reasoning.  But we are still creatures of conditioning.  When we go to a movie, popcorn suddenly sounds good.  When we hear the icecream truck, we start thinking about how good that icecream would taste (Talk about a business taking advantage of Pavlov’s research!  Kids salivating at the ringing of a bell!), when we hear the angry tone in our spouse’s voice, our stomach tightens.

See how I dropped it in there?  Indeed, Pavlov and his dog have a great deal to do with our marriage.  And here, they have a good bit to do with our saving our marriage.

You see, we condition each other in a marriage.  Over time, it is as if both of us are Pavlov, and each of us is the dog, simultaneously.  At the same time I am being conditioned, I am conditioning.

**SIDE NOTE:  if you are not familiar with the term “conditioning,” it is a term from psychology that talks about how a behavior is structured by a set of inputs.  When I “condition” my dog to sit on command, I get him to sit, then reward him.  First input, my command to sit.  First response (hopefully), he sits.  Second input, I reward him.  Second response (if all has gone well), he learns that if he sits on command, he gets a treat!**

Now let me be very clear here.  I am NOT calling your spouse a dog.  I AM stating that we humans also respond to this “stimulus-response conditioning.”  In fact, we have so much coming at us that we do many things on automatic, as we just can’t think through everything.  So, our brain takes shortcuts.  We learn a response, and we use it over and over.  Sometimes, it is helpful.  Sometimes, it is not.

Imagine for a moment that you are sitting at the table, working on the bills.  In walks your spouse with what you interpret as a scowl on their face.  Without really processing it, your brain notes that it has seen that look before, and things did not go well.  So, trying to shortcut the problem, you say “what’s wrong with you?”  What you might not notice is something your spouse noticed:  a little edge in your voice.  Ouch!

“Nothing is wrong.  Why do you always assume something is wrong?”  Already, you have been trying to figure out how to get the bills to fit into the money available, and already have some adrenaline running through your system.  And that is all it takes.  Each of you have a bit of fuel thrown onto your flames.

In seconds, a quiet afternoon erupts into a relational wildfire.  And as both of you keep digging into your bag of learned tricks, you find more and more fuel to dump on the flames.  Soon, every weakness, slight, and pain from the years of your relationship are heaped onto the table.  And there seems little way out.

Sound familiar?  Change the circumstances just a bit.  Do they fit the pattern for you?  Or perhaps you have followed that path so many times that you have another conditioned response:  silence.  Freezing silence to prevent the fire.  It just doesn’t seem worth it anymore.

One of the things we humans do not like to admit is how much we work on automatic, how much we are conditioned to respond.  We pretend that only animals are that easily influenced.  Somehow, our higher capacity of thought is supposed to keep that from happening(!), but nothing is further from the truth!  MUCH of our lives is run on a simple “stimulus-response” capacity.

So why not use that to your advantage?  Why fight it?  Instead, befriend conditioning and make it work FOR you!

First, consider what ALL the research shows:  positive conditioning is MUCH more powerful than negative conditioning.  In other words, if you want to try to use conditioning, reward the behavior you like. . . and ignore the behavior you don’t like.  You see, when you give negative conditioning, you are still conditioning FOR the behavior.

Let’s think back to the toddler years.  A child is walking through the aisles of the store, sees a toy he MUST have, and tries to get you to buy it.  You refuse.  He melts down, goes to the floor in tears, and wails as if he is on the edge of death.  You:
a) grab that toy and buy it (positive conditioning for negative behavior),
b) grab that boy and drag him out of the store (negative conditioning for negative behavior, showing him that his fit DID get a response),
c) stare at him quietly, giving no cues to what you think, but giving him that slight “you look foolish, and it ain’t working” bemused look.

Outcome to a):  he will throw a fit whenever he wants something.  Outcome to b):  he will throw a fit when he wants your attention.  Outcome to c):  he learns that the fit does not work, so he gives it up.

Application:  when your  spouse does something you like, let him/her know it, loud and clear!  If your spouse does something you don’t like, as long as it falls short of abuse or danger, ignore it.

Back to the bill-writing episode of the spouse with the scowl.  Why even respond?  If something is wrong, isn’t it up to that person to address it, bring it to your attention?  Otherwise, we are training our spouse that we will try to read their mind — a recipe for disaster!

Assume that, unless your spouse approaches you about what is behind that scowl, it is their issue.  It is up to them to address, not up to you to discover.  Let it go, and move on.  Remember, you are conditioned, too.  And you need to recondition yourself.

Second, notice when you are automatically reacting.  Look for it.  Here are some places to look:
a)  when you are repeating the same arguments, and they start the same way,
b)  when you find yourself wondering why your spouse is not responding to some action, expression, or tone you are using (maybe they read this first!).
c)  when you feel your gut tightening, a sure sign that you are caught by some pattern.

Marriages do not suddenly fall apart.  They are taken apart, brick by brick.  Pattern after pattern, conditioned response after conditioned response, the foundation is taken apart.  And marriages are not saved in an instant.  They are rebuilt brick by brick.  But the rebuilding starts when someone decides to stop acting on automatic.

Save The Marriage Video: Will Problems Just Happen Again?
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

Has your spouse told you that even if you did work on the marriage, the problems would just come back, so why bother?  Or perhaps you did work on your marriage, only to see the problems return.

Does that mean that problems returning is unavoidable?  Does that make you or your spouse wonder “what’s the point?”

I would contend that you have “missed the point!”  Sure, every marriage has problems.  But let me tell you how you can end a problem for good, and be better prepared to deal with any other problems that emerge!

Watch this video!

Save The Marriage Video: I Keep Messing Up. What Do I Do?
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

Do you find yourself in a panic, making a crisis even worse?  Does that mean you can’t save your marriage?

Time to discover what you need to do if you want to save your marriage, even if you are making mistakes.  Let’s face it:  you are in the midst of a crisis, and most of us do not do well with fear.  But that doesn’t mean there is no hope.  We just need to get you back on track!  Learn how to save your marriage, even if you keep messing up!

Video: Can You Fall In Love Again?
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

We recently looked at where the love went.  Today, we want to examine the question, “can we fall in love again?”  A crucial question.

You see, I don’t think you should just be saving your marriage to avoid divorce.  I believe you can and should be building an exceptional marriage.  A marriage crisis does not mean you simply limp along into the future.  You grow, learn, develop, and create a marriage much, much better than ever before.

Want to know what can happen?  Watch this video to help you save your marriage.

Video: Can This Marriage Be Saved?
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

For anyone asking the question, “Can this marriage be saved,” today’s video will help you determine that.  Too much marriage advice jumps in with suggestions.  I want to help you understand why you are here, and what can be done.  Then we can talk about what to do!

So, watch today’s video to help you decide if you can save your marriage.

Do You WANT Your Marriage, Or Are You Playing Tug-Of-War?
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

I spend a good portion of my week responding to consultation emails and working with clients. This week, I had two cases that reminded me of a very important fact: we all have a tendency to play tug-of-war.

Let me explain with a personal example. A couple of years ago, I was at a conference. In the afternoon session, we were asked to turn and face another person, and place our arms in an arm wrestling position.

The instructions were simple: touch each others’ hand to the table as many times as possible in 60 seconds.

For the next minute, everyone in the room engaged in a strenuous match of arm wrestling. Few people got their count above 10, and that was mostly because of a mismatch in size and strength!

Then, the leaders pulled out a table and put their hands in position, but they cooperated! Each took turns having their hands hit to the table, and they were able to get over 90 touches in! They had given us the directions, but we were already poised to arm wrestle!

Now, back to saving marriages. When a spouse decides that he or she wants out, a tug-of-war can be set up. Our natural tendency is to pull in the opposite direction. In other words, they pull away, we pull toward the relationship!

So, this week, one woman told me how hard she was working to save her marriage. She also told me her husband had already had not one, not two, but three affairs! I suspect there were others! I told the woman that she needed to pause for a moment, and instead of trying to figure out how to save the marriage, she needed to ponder another question. She needed to decide on whether she could continue in a marriage with a philanderer. She suddenly realized that she could not do that.

The very next day, a woman started telling me about all her attempts to save her marriage, then noted the affair and abuse she had suffered through with her husband. Again, I got her to pause in her marriage-saving strategy and ask whether she wanted to have the marriage she was in. She is still thinking.

My point is this: are you just trying to save a marriage, or do you want that marriage? I am all about saving marriages, but I am also about having a marriage you want to have. Don’t get caught up in saving a marriage, and fail to see that if you did save it, you wouldn’t want it! Instead, focus on saving a marriage AND making it a marriage you can treasure!

More marriage saving information can be found in my ebook, SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE HERE.

Marriage Is Tough
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

“Marriage shouldn’t be that hard.” That was the opening comment of my client this week. He was convinced that his marriage was doomed. He believe it was because his marriage had become difficult. He believed that this should not be the case.

I had to chuckle. Marriage is the most intense relationship that any two adults will have in their life. There’s no way around it. Two people living together that intensely, making decisions together, having sex together, making decisions together, and doing everything else that married couple do are going to have difficulties. No way around it.

I turned to him and said “why do you say that?” He told me he just figured that marriages should just work. They shouldn’t be hard work, and when there are problems, they should just be able to be solved instantly. Now, I don’t generally laugh at my client, but it was all I could do to hold back the laughter, and only let out a chuckle. “You have got to be kidding,” I said. “Marriage is tough, whether it is in good times or bad, marriage is tough.”

I continued on for a second, “every single marriage has problems, the question is whether you work through them out or not. It is not a question of whether you will have problems.” You see, I really believe that every marriage is destined to have difficulty. That is just the way it is. Statistically speaking, half of those couples will choose not to work on their problems. About half will find a way to deal with the problems. That does not mean that there were no problems, only that they discovered how to deal with the problem.

“Come with me,” I said my client. I walked my client to the window. We looked out onto the parking lot. I pointed to car and said “is that yours?” “Yes,” he said, “that’s my car. Looks pretty nice doesn’t it?” I had to admit, it with a pretty nice car. It looked like it was well taken care of. I asked, “did you just grab the car, or did you do some research? Did you, when you were getting ready to buy it, maybe buy a car magazine? Did you look up the price on the Internet, maybe even did you research on what other people thought about the car?”

“Yes, I sure did! I spent months looking at my options. I probably went to the dealer like 10 times.” He chuckled, “my wife was tired of hearing about that car.” So then I asked, “have you had any problems with the car?” My client thought for a second. “Well, yes. It made some funny noises.”

“What did you do?” I asked. He responded, “first, I looked it up on the Internet. Then, I bought a book about the model of car I had. I found out that it was a fairly common problem, and it only needed a little bit of tightening of a couple of bolts to stop it.” I continued, “and did you do it yourself? Or did you take it to the dealer?”

“I took it to the dealer. They are the experts on this.” “So, you didn’t sell the car?” I pushed him. “No. It was just a little problem.” I pushed a little harder, “I’ll bet you would have had bigger problems if you hadn’t fixed it, and let it go on and on.”

“Probably so… Doc, is this about my car or about my marriage?” He had me. He knew I was really talking about his marriage. “How long have you been having problems?” I asked. He thought for a second, then said, “probably four or five years. But we had some of the same problems even before we got married.”

“Did you get a book about marriage? Did you talk to a therapist? Did you go to a seminar? Did you do anything that might address the issues?” I asked. I knew I had him. Just like most people, he had a problem in his relationship, but he didn’t seek good advice. In fact, as far as I can tell, the only people he talked to were his drinking buddies. Not the best place to go for marriage advice.

Marriage is tough. It’s tough because it requires us to set ourselves and our ego aside for the betterment of both of us. In other words, we have to get outside of ourselves, and look at the greater good of both people. That does not mean that one person has to give up everything. But it does mean that it takes looking at the good of the relationship when making decisions.

Someone once said, “You can either be right. Or you can be happy, but you can’t be both.” This is especially true in marriage. If you insist on being right, you both will be miserable. Choose to be happy. And when there is a problem, recognize that is normal, then seek out some help in resolving it.

More marriage saving information can be found in my ebook, SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE HERE.

Can An Ebook Really Save A Marriage?
150 150 Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.

That is such an interesting question: can a book or an ebook really save a marriage? The overwhelming answer is “yes, absolutely!” That is the short answer. The longer answer of how any book can save a marriage is little deeper.

First, most people think of “book or therapy” as the two options. “Should we go to therapy?” Or “should we grab that book?” Either/or is rarely a good position. Sometimes, it is “both/and.” In other words, if you are already in therapy, a book can give additional information that can be helpful.

That said, let’s be real: therapy isn’t that effective, according to research. Study after study shows the same thing, that marriage therapy is, by-and-large, ineffective. In fact, about 50% of couples that go to therapy divorce. That is about the same rate as the overall population. In other words, even for those that try to intervene, they are no more likely to stay married than those who did nothing!

More than that, between 8 and 10% of those who go to therapy say that it was helpful at all. That is the percentage that claim to have improved their marriage through therapy!

So, imagine this: you go to the doctor who tells you that you need to go through a procedure that has a 50% mortality rate, and only 10% improve. Who would sign up for that? Yet each year, a huge number of couples choose to undergo the procedure!

Why? Because we have been led to believe this is necessary to save a marriage in trouble. My experience is that a great deal of damage can be done in therapy. Couples tend to re-hash the painful experiences, but with no resolution. You see, the majority of couples therapists work just like they would with an individual (which isn’t always helpful for individuals). But when two people are telling stories about what is painful, it ends up being a fight. Right there, in front of the therapist! And the therapist watchs “to see how they interact.”

The couple needs tools! They need help in finding a new path! What has happened in the past has little to do with what can happen in the future! And that is the problem with couples therapy.

So, what about books? Books provide tools, new understandings, new strategies. In fact, the latest research in neuro-biology is that our brain needs a new understanding to create a new pattern. Talking about what has happened keeps us in the very old patterns that got us in trouble. New models and understandings change that.

And that is the power of a good book. It can provide new understandings by giving new information. Notice, I said a “good book.” There is a lot of information out there. Some is good, and some is useless.

So, the real question is, can a good book (or ebook) save a marriage? Absolutely! If you can’t get a spouse to see a therapist, he or she may read a book. And even if a spouse won’t read a book, you can take advantage of the information and change your perspective. If you change your perspective, you change the pattern. If you change the pattern, your spouse will have to respond differently. If you are responding differently and your spouse is responding differently, the marriage can change.

There is one major caveat here: Books are meant to be read! Buying a book or downloading an ebook will get you nowhere if you do not read it! There are estimates that up to 95% of self-help books are never fully read! So, if you want to judge a book or an ebook, recognize that you must read it. Second, any self-help book will be ineffective if you merely read it. You must read it, digest it, and put it into practice!

So, if you both read a book and act upon it, and the information is good, yes, you can save your marriage with a book (or ebook).

You may wonder why I keep saying “ebook.” It is because this is the format I have chosen for my information. Each month, my ebook is read by more couples than most therapists will see in a lifetime of practice. The reason is because the information is solid (it works) and because it is accessible.

Any time, day or night, you can get my information almost immediately. No waiting for Amazon to ship, no wasting gas getting to the store. Instead, there is immediate access to information when you are ready for it.

If you are ready, grab my ebook by CLICKING HERE!

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