How To Make An Award Winning No-Holds-Barred Apology

Knowing the secrets of a really good apology can mean the difference between this:

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And this:

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Most of us learned to apologize back when we were in preschool and as far as I can tell, few people have upgraded their approach since then.

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Fights Driving You Crazy? Try These Three Words

Say you’re about to get into one of your typical fights. The fight you’ve had ten thousand times before and it always ends badly. The one where you say this and your partner says that and the next thing you know you’ve turned into a matched pair of lunatics.

Maybe you slam a door or you yell. Screen Shot 2013-09-22 at 9.04.47 AMMaybe you turn into an ice queen or a sniper or you go silent as stone. Whatever your style, if you’re like most couples, when trouble brews you do the one thing that’s 100% guaranteed to get you into a fight. You get sucked in.

What if instead of “going with the flow,” one of you gets a grip on your sanity and says: Let’s. Back. Up.

Short, sweet, and incredibly powerful— if you have the wherewithal to not only say it but do it.

Let’s back up is the next best thing to Continue reading

Making It Last… and Last and Last

What if when you said “until death do us part” you were signing on to a marriage that may last as long as a century?

Today TIME.com ran a piece that talked about how with the possibility of some of us living to be one hundred fifty years old we may live long enough to have two or even three very long marriages.

I began to wonder, instead, what one would need to do to have one marriage that would remain vital and satisfying for a hundred years, or even longer? With a mere thirty-five years of marriage under my belt, my first thought was Continue reading

Complaining: The Anti-Problem Solver We Know And Love

Last April, at the annual Couples Conference in Manhattan Beach, therapist Michelle Weiner Davis said, “When women tell you that they’ve tried everything, what they really mean is that they’ve said everything.”

Precisely, I thought. Every day clients announce “I’ve tried everything” when the truth is they’ve barely begun to consider their options, let alone act on them.

Like the woman who came in last week for her first appointment. Continue reading

When One Partner Is Out and The Other Is In

What To Do When Your Spouse Wants A Divorce And You Still Think There’s Hope

Anyone who’s been in a relationship for more than ten minutes knows that no two people will see eye-to-eye about everything. One’s wearing a sweater while the other is fanning herself. One puts ketchup on eggs while the other is horrified.

Fine, you say. There’s no need to agree. You can like tomato and I’ll like tomahto.

But what if your iStock_000008507563XSmalldifference is about something more serious than diction or condiments or setting the thermostat? What if one of you desperately wants to hold your marriage together while the other has met with an attorney and is now spending every spare moment looking at apartments on Craig’s list?

You can’t very well agree to disagree about this.

If you were to poll twenty-five couples therapists, at least twenty-four of us would say Continue reading

Want A Better Marriage? Change One Thing

Yes, just one. Even if there are ten things that keep you from being nominated for Spouse of the Year, start by changing one.iStock_000026522045XSmall copy

Maybe it’s your stinginess or the way you’re quick to criticize. Perhaps it’s your passivity or your hit-and-run style of arguing or how you’ll hang onto a grudge until hell freezes over. Then again, it might be your “look.” You know which look. I’m talking about the look that says, this again? Really? You’ve got to be kidding! The look that’s guaranteed to set your partner’s teeth on edge.

When I ask people to identify one thing they could do to be a better relater, very few Continue reading