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February 8, 2010

Visit for a good article about my most recent book, “How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It.”


Don’t Let Lean Times be Mean Times

April 27, 2009

Surely there’s not a person reading this who has not be challenged by the current economic environment. If you are fortunate enough to be financially fit to weather this imperfect storm, then you probably know someone not quite as lucky or well-prepared. When friends and family suffer, we suffer too. Financial hardship comes with its own brand of stress because it affects every aspect of our life, beginning with survival, and when survival is involved, there are no small issues. An unpaid bill becomes competition for your next meal; a child’s rudimentary school expense becomes a budget breaker. All this added strain can cause distance and disappointment in relationships. A man might feel like a failure because he doesn’t have immediate remedies for daily financial needs; a woman might fear not only for her own welfare but for her loved ones. Without awareness and forethought, shame and fear can drive a wedge in your relationship. Men may shut down or get angry; women may complain, longing for reassurance that’s difficult to guarantee.

The good news is: relationships are one of the strongest buffers against tough times. If you let the challenges bring you closer by putting two shoulders behind the same wheel, weathering this storm will make your commitment more seaworthy and your love more trustworthy. To use this opportunity to your advantage:

1. Make a plan together
2. Set aside time to assess and reassess your progress
3. Celebrate even small successes
4. Don’t forget to use children, family and friends as support
5. Share your love, because unlike money, the more you give away, the more you have

The Secret Language of Close Couples

March 23, 2009

Article authored by Leslie Goldman with contribution by Pat Love. See the original article here.
The Secret Language of Close Couples
Why cutesy names and code words may be the key to supergluing your bond

Lovey-dovey language—even your own—can be so corny it makes you want to puke. But researchers have found that it might actually serve a purpose: Pet names and code phrases pave the way to a playful, resilient, and satisfying relationship. One study on couples’ “insider language” published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships reported that the more goofy names, made-up terms, and covert requests for nooky a couple used, the higher their relationship satisfaction tended to be. The quantity of sweet or silly nothings you utter on any given day may be even more important than the quality, says Jamie Turndorf, Ph.D., a New York City relationship therapist. Studies have found that couples who maintain a five-to-one ratio of positive to negative communications are far more likely to remain happy. “Using nicknames and made-up language is an easy way to inject positive communication into everyday life,” Turndorf says.

In fact, it’s probably the single easiest thing you can do to keep your relationship going strong. Whether it’s baby talk or coded conversation (“It’s getting chilly.” Translation: “Let’s leave now.”), the overall message is: The two of you are tight. “You are saying, symbolically, that you care enough about the other person and the relationship to develop your own way of speaking,” says Carol Bruess, Ph.D., the director of family studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a co-author of Belly Button Fuzz and Bare-Chested Hugs: What Happy Couples Do. “You’ve got your own private world, your own mini culture.”

The Meaning Behind a Moniker
Pet names also create a boundary, says Pat Love, co-author of How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It. “It’s a way to identify the relationship as exclusive,” she says. “It’s like an auditory marker.” When people around you overhear your cutesy conversation, they know you’re committed to each other. The inside banter can also serve as a fast-forward button, says Lillian Glass, Ph.D., a communication and body-language expert based in Los Angeles. Sometimes, after a rough day at work, you just want to come home, flop onto the couch, and pop open a bottle of something smooth and red. How great is it when your partner knows that “the usual” is code for “My imbecile boss just wasted six hours of my life with mindless busy work and I’m really in a mood right now”? Statement, sentiment, and your current mental state all rolled into two words—no need to relive the whole disastrous day blow by blow.

Personalized lingo not only can bond a relationship—it can bail it out, too. University of Western Ontario psychology professor Lorne Campbell, Ph.D., has researched the use of humor during conflicts. In a study published in the journal Personal Relationships, Campbell found that when goofing around is used to help resolve disputes, it ultimately strengthens the relationship. Tossing in an inside joke during a would-be brawl not only relieves the tension, he says, but brings you back to the present.

Cementing Memories
It’s no coincidence that new couples give each other nicknames that are sugary and food-related. Cupcake. Honeybun. Peaches. “Sweet is an unequivocally positive descriptor,” Glass says. “You’re comparing the other person with a treat—something special that you look forward to every time.” As a relationship matures and trust builds, you may develop pet names that refer to a feature or personality trait of your partner (like calling your boyfriend Leo when his beard grows shaggy and out of control). That kind of “just between us” language drives home how well you know each other. Every shared experience, Glass says, opens doors for more nicknames and inside jokes, which become earmarks for your most meaningful memories.

Whether he calls you Rodeo, after the horseback-riding trip you took on your first anniversary, or you call him Speed Racer, for the time he drove 90 mph to get you to the airport on time, the names are a way of tracking your romantic history. “You have a word that signifies a time, a date, and a place, and it takes you back to that moment,” Glass says. Of course, for a nickname to work, both parties have to be happy with it. If it annoys you when your man calls you Stinky in memory of your bad bout with Indian food last fall, that’s definitely not going to bring you any closer. “You’re putting your trust in the other person to treat you in a safe and intimate way,” Glass says. “Tread carefully.”

The One Must-Say Phrase
What if you and your man would rather cut your tongues out than utter a ridiculous nickname? Don’t worry; you’re not doomed. Worse, Turndorf says, is a relationship in which “I love you” is hardly ever said. Still, she encourages couples to come up with as many catchphrases as they can stand. They don’t have to be gooey and sweet—funny is fine. But one big red flag to watch for is if your partner stops calling you by your pet name, Love says. “It’s like calling a naughty kid by his full name. It sends the signal ‘I’m not being intimate with you anymore.'” When that happens, it’s time to figure out what in your relationship needs fixing. Bottom line: Having a shared language can only help strengthen the connection you feel with your partner. So swallow your pride and bring on the shmoopy.

Men nurture with aggression; Women are aggressive with their nurturing.

March 10, 2009

Have you ever noticed how men tease, ridicule, cajole, even bait one another; and it seems the tighter the friendship, the more tenacious the teasing? This behavior occurs much to the chagrin of the females who wonder why on earth guys treat each other this way. Truth is, men know something women don’t; i.e., when a man points out another man’s faults, he doesn’t do it to punish, but to provide an opportunity for improvement. If, for example, John wants to help his buddy Frank im-prove his social life, he wouldn’t say, “I’m sensing that you might be a little lonely and longing for companionship Frank, let me make a suggestion…” instead, he’s more likely to quip, “If you didn’t wear that stupid ball cap you might get a date!”So, women, when the guy in your life says some-thing like, “Do you have a pair of jeans that aren’t that tight?” give him the benefit of the doubt, imagine that he’s really trying to help.

Women are aggressive with their nurturing. Now if a woman said to another woman “If you didn’t wear that stupid ball cap you might get a date,” it would likely signal the end of the relation-ship because women are more likely to compliment not criticize their friends. In fact ceasing to compliment is a form of female criticism. If you want to punish your girlfriend, fail to comment on her new hairstyle or Ed Hardy jacket. Women, as sweet as we can be, use nurturing as well as friendships aggressively. At an early age girls figure out the power of saying to another girl, “If you don’t do it, I won’t be your friend!” So, while men nurture aggressively; females are aggressive with their nurturing. They punish by withholding affection as well as communication. This is why a man who may be initially relieved by a woman’s silence, comes to find out that she is really unhappy with him. In fact, research shows when a woman quits complaining it’s not necessarily a good sign. If she’s dissatisfied to the point of muteness, she may be planning her exit strategy.

So women, when your man asks “Is that the dress you’re wearing?” take a deep breath and imagine he’s saying “I’m taken by your beauty and I want everyone else to see it.” And guys, if you want to avoid that silent treatment that doesn’t bode well for you, make sure you stay in contact through talk, touch and tenderness.

Song of Songs You Tube Launch

February 28, 2009

Song of Songs is going to do a huge launch on YouTube on March 20th.
They are making the entire 70 min film free to those who want to watch
it online and you will be able to link to it from their website. Song of
Songs Filmmaker Chris Brickler interviews ordinary individuals and
relationship experts – including Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt
– and weaves together a beautiful and inspiring film about romantic
love. An Emmy-nominated documentary, Song of Songs explores the mystery,
chemistry, and challenges of romantic love relationships.

The Three C’s

February 24, 2009

The Three C’s of a Relationship: Chemistry, Compatibility, Commitment. Rank the following items in terms of how important they are to you in your relationship. Rank them on a scale from 0 to 4, with 0 being “not important”, 1 as “somewhat important”, 2 is “neutral”, 3 is “important”, and 4 being “very important”.

1. Physical affection
2. Sexual touching
3. Having sex
4. Being excited about sex
5. Pleasing one another sexually
6. Keeping romance alive with gifts, cards, gestures
7. Having fun with my partner
8. Getting along well on a regular basis
9. Being able to share my feelings with my partner
10. Being able to talk openly with my partner
11. Having my partner support me
12. Putting effort and energy into the relationship
13. Trusting my partner to be faithful
14. Having my partner be honest with me
15. Partner providing financial support
16. Permanent commitment
17. Spending time as a couple with friends
18. Spending time as a couple with family

Find your total scores for items 1-6, 7-12, and 13-18 below.
Chemistry (1-6)

Compatibility (7-12)

Commitment (13-18)

High numbers represent personal preferences. Once you have tabulated your scores, rate the items the way you think your partner will rate them. Place these scores on the right side of the item number. Once you have both completed the survey twice compare your answers. You might want to use the following questions to process your results.

1. What I found interesting about my answers was…
2. What I found interesting about your answers was…
3. Tell me more about…
4. Thank you for…

For further information about chemistry, compatibility and commitment read The Truth About Love, by Pat Love. Available at


February 4, 2009

brigida-387Where are those happy days, they seem so hard to find
I tried to reach for you, but you have closed your mind
Whatever happened to our love?
I wish I understood
It used to be so nice, it used to be so good

So when you’re near me, darling can’t you hear me
S. O. S….

Do you remember this ABBA song? Well, it’s a great mnemonic for staying connected to your partner, or perhaps repairing a rift between the two of you. Just think S.O.S.—skin on skin. That’s right. Just reach out and touch; give ‘em some flesh. Put your hand on his hand; your cheek on her cheek. A pat on the back through the shirt or blouse isn’t enough; to create and maintain a close, intimate relationship you have to connect nerve ending to nerve ending through flesh-on-flesh contact. S.O.S. sends a more powerful message and has the ability to head off problems as well as deepen your love.

The right to intimate physical contact is one of the privileges that define and separate a romantic love relationship from other relationships. You wouldn’t touch your boss on her cheek (either one) or take her hand when you are talking to her. This would be inappropriate, far too intimate, and could easily result in a sexual harassment charge. Private gestures are saved for close personal contact because they release oxytocin, the bonding, loving, I-want-to-take-care-of-you, you-belong-to-me, chemical. Romantic relationships need S.O.S. contact to keep love and connection alive. Doesn’t take anymore time or effort once you make a habit of it.

♫ ♪
So when you’re near me darling, can’t you hear me S.O.S.