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article focuses on vital
questions that committed mates with and without dependent kids should ask about their relationship.
It extends a similar Q&A article for
seriously-dating (uncommitted) couples with and
Before reading further, pause, breathe, and reflect - why are you reading this?
What do you
Typical adults seek a partner to share their lives with. Each mate
tries to fill a group of concurrent
by committing to a primary relationship. Their wholistic health
and their family's harmony can be significantly affected by how well the
relationship fills their mutual needs.
statistics suggest that typical American mates have trouble
(a) making three wise commitment
(b) maintaining a mutually-satisfying
relationship with their partner. My clinical experience suggests that troubled couples
are often psychologically
and unaware of these vital
It further suggests that many needy, wounded people - with and without kids -
choose the wrong
for the wrong
at the wrong
When this is
true, it may not be possible to resolve significant primary-relationship problems
and avoid at least psychological divorce.
odds for a mutually-satisfying primary relationship rise significantly if mates
want to study and discuss key questions like those below.
Part one pertains to any primary relationship, and part two to typical
stepfamily unions (re/marriages). Both parts apply to couples who are legally married or
These answers assume you're familiar with...
to study and discuss these requisites suggests you may be ruled by a well-meaning
If so, see
and lower your expectations about benefiting from this
Q&A about Primary Relationships
These questions and brief answers are for all couples, and stepfamily couples.
Most answers include links to more detailed information. Scan all the
questions before following any links. Option - try answering each
question out loud before reading the answer.
Questions for All Couples
1) What is a "committed
relationship," and what is "marriage"?
needs do most people try to fill
by committing to a primary partner?
is a "successful" or "healthy" primary relationship?
4) Why do
over half of recent
U.S. marriages fail psychologically or legally, and how can my mate and I
guard against divorce?
I believe my partner is often ruled by a
false self. S/He denies this, and/or won't discuss it without
getting defensive, overwhelmed, or angry. What can
6) When we try to
discuss important issues, we often wind up arguing and fighting.
What can we
7) I often feel my
partner doesn't want to hear me in important conversations. S/He
interrupts me, changes the subject, misunderstands, blanks out, or leaves.
What can I do?
8) I'm losing
respect for and/or
trust in my mate - what can I do?. Follow the
links and dis-cuss what you find.
9) Our lives are so jammed that my
partner and I have little non-distracted time together.
can we do?
10) My mate and/or I
have an active
(including codependence). What are our
of us is having a romantic/sexual affair. What
can we do?
12) I don't feel
loved and/or sexually
desired by my partner. What can I do?
Follow the links, and discuss what you find with your mate.
often torn between my mate and one or more other people (like a child,
parent, or sibling). What should I do?
Tailor and apply these options.
14) After we married, my
partner turned into a different person.
What can I do?
15) My mate and I constantly fight
about money-related problems, and it's weakening our relationship and
stressing our family. What can we do? See this.
partner seems listless, apathetic, and sad all the time, and isn't
snapping out of it. I'm getting worried s/he is clinically
depressed. What can we do?
about yourself with this 1-question anonymous
If you're committed but not legally re/married, substitute "primary
relationship" for "re/marriage" in these questions and answers.
If you haven't committed yet, read these Q&A items
about courtship first.
than first marriage?
18) What do mates
need to know about
of American stepfamily
20) What can we partners
do to succeed
21) Is there a
best way to resolve
22) My mate and I disagree on whether
we're a stepfamily or not. Should we
be concerned about this?
too attentive to my ex mate (my kids' other bioparent). I disagree, and
feel misunderstood and judged unfairly.
What are my options?
me when my stepkids visit, and I'm turning into
someone I don't like. When I say how I feel, my mate denies s/he's ignoring
me, or says I'm oversensitive or "Grow
up," or we fight or avoid each other.
What can I do?
25) My partner and I can't agree on
conceiving a child together, or (b) legally adopting a stepchild. What are our
ex mate is about to
re/marry. Should we mates do anything to
prepare us and the
partner wants a child to move in with us full time. I'm scared this could wreck our marriage, but
s/he disagrees. What can we do?
28) I'm getting really fed up with my
mate allowing disrespect
from an ex mate, child, or relative. How
can I get my partner to get some backbone, set some boundaries, and honor my needs?
My partner calls me
by his/her former partner's name,, and says "I can't help it." I need this to
stop! What can I do?
30) When should we consider
counseling, and how can we pick an effective counselor?
considering separation or
re/divorce. What are my
worry that a relative or friend
who's about to re/marry is making a major mistake.
What can I do?
re/marriage resources do you recommend?
you don't see your question here, please ask!
is a "committed
relationship" and what is "marriage"?
For initial perspective on answering these questions, scan
these Q&A items and return here.
Premises - a relationship exists when someone feels that one or both people are
"significantly affected" by the existence, values, and/or behaviors of the
other person - locally or over time. Relation-ships
fill a mix of each partner's personal needs - i.e. to reduce significant
emotional, physical, and/or spiritual discomforts.
Do you agree?
Relationships can be with a living
thing or something abstract like a value (e.g. honesty), dream ("a
happy family"), or a cause (e.g. reducing poverty and hunger).
Relationships can be voluntary or required by circumstances - e.g. a
spouse "must" have relationships with their partner's relatives, even if
they don't care about or like each other. Try sorting the relationships with
adults and kids in your life into voluntary and required. What do you notice?
Now reflect and say your definition of
commitment out loud, as tho to a
typical pre-teen. See how it compares to this opinion:
"Commitment" is a conscious decision
to invest time and energy in something (like a role, relationship, or cause)
whether it's satisfying (need-fulfilling) or uncomfortable (need-causing).
priority to someone or something in times of
change, confusion, and major conflicts indicates significant
Implication - in a committed primary relationship, one or both partners
assign consistently high priority to maintaining their relationship
despite conflicting needs and temptations. Staying committed (" 'til death do us
part") is usually a sign that the person is guided by their
Marriage has many
personal, social, religious, and legal meanings:
a special evolving emotional -
spiritual - physical relationship,
a personal-identity factor ("I
am married, not single"),
a state of mind ("I feel
an emotional, religious, and
a symbolic ritual and
personal, family, and social event,
a traditional criteria for
personal and social codes of
moral conduct and values;
a social and religious
inhibition against sexual promiscuity;
an environmental protection
for developing children;
a personal and family status
a (declining) social permit
for adult intercourse and child conception.
Can you think of other
definitions of marriage and married?
Recent social tradition implies
will (a) want to maintain the primacy of
their relation-ship, and will (b)
each other unconditionally "for
better and for worse." Would you agree that partners who share a clear,
definition of marriage probably increase their chance of long-term
satisfaction? Can you and your partner define it? Compare your
ideas with this:
is a voluntary religious and/or spiritual, social, legal, (usually) sexual, long-term,
relationship between two independent adults. Each partner
to the other hoping to fill a dynamic
mix of psychological, physical, mental, and spiritual
or healthy marriage is one that fills enough of each partner's needs "well
enough," in their respective opinions.
For more perspective, see (a) these Q&A items on
divorce, (b) these
common marital problems, and (c) this perspective on
What needs do most people try to fill
by committing to a primary partner?
is a psychological, physical, or spiritual
discomfort. All animal behavior and all relationships seek to
fill a mix of current primary needs. If you are or were committed
(Q1 above) to a primary partner, can
you name the needs you each wanted to fill by co-committing? Each partner
may have a different mix and ranking of needs, tho many are the same.
Naming these needs allows you to
assess your relationship "health," and
significant problems (unfilled needs). Try
reflecting and writing
down the needs you feel a (or your) primary relationship aims to satisfy. Then compare
your results with
What is a successful or healthy primary relationship?
reflecting and saying your definition of a successful
out loud. Then compare your opinion to this:
"A healthy primary relationship is…
mutually chosen by two
partners, who each...
or are intentionally progressing toward that;
and each is...
(vs. numb, deluded, or distracted), and
feels that their key psychological + spiritual + mental + physical
filled well enough,
way that often promotes genuine personal
growth toward manifesting (a) each partner's unique
(b) social, spiritual, and ecological harmony; while the partners
their relationship second after their
and wholistic health; and they
balanced as they adapt to
ceaseless personal and environmental
You partners will probably update your definitions of
healthy marriage over time, as you age, gain wisdom and perspective
together, and your needs and priorities shift. You'll be able to describe the shift if
you each choose to
(a) slow down, (b) practice
and (c) talk honestly and
Why do over half of recent U.S. marriages fail psychologically or
legally, and how can my mate and I guard against divorce?
30 years' clinical research, I propose
four main reasons
for our tragic US divorce epidemic:
in one or
mates, promoting up to three unwise commitment and child-conception
typical committed couples (a) are unable to think, communicate, and
as true partners, and (b) accept, and/or (c) don't know how to
improve this; and...
troubled couples seek effective
professional help, they often can't find any locally or in the media;
these three problems is the real problem
- public unawareness and denial of the lethal [wounds + unawareness]
that is inexorably eroding our families and society.
This article proposes effective ways to
this pandemic cycle.
mates try to
discuss important issues, we usually wind up arguing, fighting, or shutting
down. What can we
This usually indicates (a) significant false-self (psychological)
or both mates, plus (b) shared ignorance of effective
can be improved, once they're admitted (vs. denied). Commit to helping
each other patiently progress at self-improvement
together, and enjoy the results - more win-win
fewer arguments and fights, and a more satisfying relationship.
For practical options. read and discuss these
Q&A items about wounds and
I often feel my partner doesn't want to hear me in important
conversations. S/He interrupts me, changes the subject, misunderstands,
blanks out, or leaves. What can I do?
causes and options are...
is ruled by a reactive
which distracts her or him around you. If so, you
and you have impactful options. And/or...
The way you behave in general or in
key situations causes your partner some discomfort, but s/he
isn't telling you, so you can't
Option: ask your mate if you're
doing something that impedes her or his hearing you. Ask specifically what
s/he usually decodes
from your behavior. Does s/he feel its
safe to answer you honestly?
Choose from these
options for improving communication.
Study these ideas on
resolving most relationship problems.
Then review these common
with your partner, and see if
any may be related to the non-hearing.
If these options don't fill your need to be
heard (respected) well
you may have deeper psycho-logical and/or relationship problems. Consider
qualified professional help.
Q14) After we married, my
partner turned into a
different person. What can I do?
It's likely that one or both of you...
have been ruled by a protective
and don't know
that, and what it
made up to three unwise
because of your
As your courtship needs were satisfied, different personality
subselves have probably taken either or both of you over, causing
behavioral changes. Discuss these Q&A items
adopt a multi-decade point of view -
e.g. 20 30 years;
your mate and yourself for psychological wounds ("false self"
If you find any, discuss
as teammates, and commit to some form of
If your mate balks or
get clear on what you can and cannot
change, and use these
commit to improving your communication
skills - patiently study
together. As you do...
discuss and use these options for
resolving most relationship
if either of you made unwise commitment choices, you can't "undo" that...
More answers to marital questions.