Lesson 4 of 7  - optimize your relationships

Q&A about Primary Relationships

Does Yours Rank Number
Two in Your Lives?

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
Member NSRC Experts Council

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The Web address of this article is https://sfhelp.org/relate/qa/marriage.htm

Updated 02-17-2015

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      This Lesson-4 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 without kids.

      Before reading further, pause, breathe, and reflect - why are you reading this? What do you need?

Background

      Typical adults seek a partner to share their lives with. Each mate tries to fill a group of concurrent needs 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.

      U.S. divorce statistics suggest that many needy, psychologically-wounded people - with and without kids - choose the wrong partner, for the wrong reasons, at the wrong time. When this is true, it may not be possible to resolve significant primary-relationship problems and avoid at least psychological divorce.

      The 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 not.

      These answers assume you're familiar with...

  • the intro to this nonprofit Web site and the premises underlying it.

  • self-improvement Lessons 1 thru 4

  • these brief news items

  • requisites for healthy relationships, and vital Q&A about relationships;

  • premises about analyzing and resolving any relationship problem

      If you're in a stepfamily or may be, you should also know...

  • self-improvement Lessons 5 thru 7

  • Q&A about stepfamilies

  • common stepfamily (re/marital) problems, and...

  • this example of a real stepfamily.
     

      Reluctance to study and discuss these requisites suggests you may be ruled by well-meaning false selves. If so, see Lesson 1, and lower your expectations about benefiting from this article. 

  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"?

2)  What needs do most people try to fill by committing to a primary partner?

3)  What 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?

5)  After reading this, I believe my partner is often ruled by false selves. S/He denies this, and/or won't discuss it without getting defensive, overwhelmed, or angry. What can I do?

6)  When we try to discuss important issues, we often wind up arguing and fighting. What can we do?

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 discuss what you find.

9)  Our lives are so jammed that my partner and I have little non-distracted time together. What can we do?

10)  My mate and/or I have an active addiction (including codependence). What are our options?

11)  One 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.

13)  I'm 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.

16)  My 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?

  Q&A about Stepfamily Re/marriage

  Learn something about yourself with this 1-question anonymous poll.

      If you're committed but not legally re/married, substitute "primary relationship" for "re/marriage" in these questions and answers. The "/" in "re/marriage" notes that it may be a stepparent's first union.

      For better perspective on these answers: first review these Q&A items about stepfamilies. if you haven't committed yet, also read these Q&A items about stepfamily courtship,

17)  Is stepfamily re/marriage different than first marriage? No and yes.

18)  What do mates need to know about stepfamily re/marriage?

19)  Why do millions of American stepfamily re/marriages fail legally or psychologically?

20)  What can we partners do to succeed long term?

21)  Is there a best way to resolve stepfamily-re/marriage problems? Yes!

22)  My mate and I disagree on whether we're a stepfamily or not. Should we be concerned about this? Yes!

23)  My partner complains I'm too attentive to my ex mate (my kids' other bioparent). I disagree, and feel misunderstood and judged unfairly. What are my options

24)  My partner ignores 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 (a) conceiving a child together, or (b) legally adopting a stepchild. What are our options?

26)  My ex mate is about to re/marry. Should we mates do anything to prepare us and the kids? Yes!

27)  My 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?

29)  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 re/marital counseling, and how can we pick an effective counselor?

31)  I'm considering separation or re/divorce. What are my options? .

32)  I worry that a relative or friend who's about to re/marry is making a major mistake. What can I do?

33)  What re/marriage resources do you recommend?

  If you don't see your question here, please ask!

Answers

Q1)  What 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. Relationships form to 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). Giving consistently-high priority to someone or something in stressful times indicates significant commitment.

      Implication - in a committed primary relationship, one or both partners choose to 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 true Self.

      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 married"),

  • an emotional, religious, and legal contract,

  • a symbolic ritual and personal, family, and social event,

  • a traditional criteria for social normalcy;

  • personal and social codes of moral conduct and values;

  • a social and religious inhibition against sexual promiscuity;

  • an environmental protection for developing children;

  • a socially-unifying "institution,"

  • a personal and family status factor, and...

  • a (declining) social permit for adult intercourse and child conception.

Can  you think of other definitions of marriage and married?

      Recent social tradition implies married mates will (a) want to maintain the primacy of their relationship, and will (b) love each other unconditionally "for better and for worse." Would you agree that partners who share a clear, conscious definition of marriage probably increase their chance of long-term satisfaction? Can you and your partner define it? Compare your ideas with this:

      Modern marriage is a voluntary religious and/or spiritual, social, legal, (usually) sexual, long-term, relationship between two independent adults. Each partner voluntarily commits to the other hoping to fill a dynamic mix of psychological, physical, mental, and spiritual needs. A good 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 articles on solving common marital problems, and (c) this perspective on stepfamily re/marriage.

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Q2)  What needs do most people try to fill by committing to a primary partner?

      A need 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 (a) assess your relationship "health," and (b) identify 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 this.

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Q3)  What is a successful or healthy primary relationship?

      Try reflecting and saying your definition of a successful or wholistically-healthy primary relationship out loud. Then compare your opinion to this:

     "A healthy primary relationship is…

  • mutually chosen by two partners, who each...

  • are usually led by their true Selves or are intentionally progressing toward that; and each partner is...

  • usually self-aware (vs. numb, deluded, or distracted), and each partner...

  • consistently feels that their key psychological + spiritual + mental + physical relationship-needs are filled well enough,

  • in a way that often promotes genuine personal healing and growth toward manifesting (a) each partner's unique life-purpose, and (b) social, spiritual, and ecological harmony; while the partners

  • want to rank their relationship second after their integrities and wholistic health; and they …

  • help each other stay balanced as they adapt to ceaseless personal and environmental changes."

      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 slow down, practice awareness, and talk honestly and empathically together...

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Q4)  Why do over half of recent U.S. marriages fail psychologically or legally, and how can my mate and I guard against divorce?

      After 33 years' clinical research, I propose four main reasons for our tragic US divorce epidemic:

  • inherited psychological wounds + unawareness in one or (usually) both needy mates, promoting unwise commitment and child-conception choices; and...

  • typical committed couples (a) are unable to think, communicate, and problem-solve effectively as true partners, and (b) they accept, and/or (c) don't know how to improve this;

  • one or both mates haven't finished grieving major losses (broken bonds) earlier in their lives, and they don't know that or what to do about it; and...

  • if troubled couples seek effective (informed) professional help with these problems, they often can't find any locally or in the media.

      Underneath these four surface problems is public unawareness and denial of the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle that is inexorably eroding our families and society. This article proposes effective ways to break this pandemic cycle.

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Q6)  When we mates try to discuss important issues, we usually wind up arguing, fighting, or shutting down. What can we do?  

      This usually indicates (a) significant psychological wounds in one or both mates, plus (b) shared ignorance of effective thinking and communicating basics and skills. Both can be improved, once they're admitted (vs. denied).

      Commit to helping each other patiently progress at self-improvement Lessons 1 and 2 together, and enjoy the results - more win-win problem-solving, fewer frustrations, arguments, and fights, and a more satisfying relationship. 

      For practical options toward mire effective communication. read and discuss this article

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Q7)  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?

      Possible causes and options are...

Your partner's personality is ruled by a reactive false self, which distracts her or him around you. If so, you can't change that, 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 problem-solve. Option: ask your mate if you're doing something that impedes her or his hearing you. Ask specifically what R(espect)-message 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 analyzing and resolving most relationship problems. Then review these common problems 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 enough, you may have deeper psychological and/or relationship problems. Consider qualified professional help.

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Q14)  After we married, my partner turned into a different person. What can I do?

  • adopt a multi-decade point of view - e.g. 20 30 years;

      It's likely that one or both of you...

  • have been ruled by a protective false self, and don't know (or deny) that and what it means. Assess your mate and yourself for inherited psychological wounds and a disabled true Self. If you find any, discuss Lesson 1 as teammates, and commit to some form of wound-reduction. If your mate balks or procrastinates, see this.

      And you two may have...

  • made up to three unwise commitment choices because of your needs, psychological wounds, and unawareness. 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 on choosing a mate for perspective.

          Accept reality: if either of you made unwise commitment choices, you can't "undo" that.

  • commit to improving your communication skills - patiently study Lesson 2 together. As you do...

  • discuss and use these options for analyzing and resolving most relationship problems. And...

  • get clear on what you can and cannot change, and use these wisdoms regularly.

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Q16)  My 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 I do?

       True depression is a neuro-chemical condition that lowers kids' and adults' energy, motivation, and ability to enjoy life. If prolonged or acute, these symptoms cause secondary personal and relationship problems. Many people aren't aware that symptoms of normal three-level grieving are easily mistaken for depression.

       Typical divorcing-family and stepfamily adults and kids, including close relatives, have major sets of losses (broken bonds) to mourn, and often came from, or live in, ''anti-grief''  settings. If you're concerned your mate is "depressed," study and discuss this article for perspective and many choices.

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   Q&A About Stepfamily Re/marriage

      The answers below pertain to stepfamily re/marriages. The "/" notes that it may be a stepparent's first union). Option: scan this playlist of YouTube videos about stepfamilies.

Q17)  Is stepfamily re/marriage different than a first marriage?

      No and yes. All marriages exist to fill basic needs, However, the environment around stepfamily mates differs from typical first marriages in at least six interactive ways:

  • one or both partners usually has painful life experience and many losses (broken bonds) to mourn from prior divorce or mate death; and...

  • courtship environments and phases are different, and...

  • adult adjustment-tasks are different, after committed cohabiting, and...

  • family structures are different in up to 35 ways; and there are more...

  • concurrent, alien conflicts over family identity + membership + values + assets and debts + loyalties + relationship triangles + childcare + names + family roles (responsibilities); and...

  • stepfamily social status is different - i.e. abnormal ("stepfamilies are non-traditional..."), second-rate ("...and somehow inferior"), and have far fewer informed social supports).

      This nets out to: typical stepfamily re/marriages have more concurrent prtoblems and a less stable and supportive environment than average first marriages. The "/" in re/marriage notes it may be a stepparent's first union.

      Many stepfamily authors and sociologists propose that recent U.S. re/marriages fail more often than first unions. Your best protection starts in courtship by heeding these danger signs and making three informed choices. The next best protection is studying and discussing this online course together.

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Q18)  What do typical mates need to know about stepfamily re/marriage?

      To evolve and maintain a long-term, mutually-satisfying re/marriage, I propose that typical couples need to learn - ideally starting in courtship - that these five hazards will probably destroy their love and commitment and wound their kids unless each partner wants to commit to steady, high-priority effort helping each other learn, tailor, and work at these 7 Lessons. To gauge whether you need to work at them, take and discuss these quizzes.

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Q19)  Why do millions of American stepfamily re/marriages fail legally or psychologically?

      After 36 years' professional research and my own stepfamily experience, I believe many (most?) U.S. stepfamily couples call divorce attorneys or endure psychological divorce for a mix of five reasons:

  • inherited psychological wounds in one or both mates; and...

  • unawareness and ignorance (lack of knowledge) of key topics, and...

  • incomplete grief in one or more stepfamily members, including kids and ex mates; 

  • choosing the wrong people to commit to, for the wrong reasons, at the wrong time; and...

  • little informed, effective help available when stresses accumulate.

      This divorce-prevention Website and the related guidebooks exist to explain and illustrate these hazards and 7 self-improvement Lessons that can neutralize them. The key to benefitting from these Lessons is mates helping each other patiently free their true Selves to harmonize and lead their talented team of personality subselves.

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Q20)  What can we partners do to succeed long term?

      Commit together to patiently studying and applying Lessons 1 thru 6 or 7 in this non-profit Web site - specially Lesson 1 (free your true Self) and Lesson 2 (learn to communicate effectively). Ideally, start studying before exchanging vows and ringsEncourage all your family adults - specially ex mates and grandparents, to study with you.  

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Q21)  Is there a best way to resolve stepfamily-re/marriage problems?

      Yes! All personal and relationship "problems" are combinations of unmet needs (discomforts). The best way to handle stepfamily (or any social) problems is to...

put and keep your true Selves in charge of your personalities (Lesson 1);

adopt and keep a genuine mutual-respect attitude, and...

use your Lesson-2 skills to follow your version of this general problem-solving framework;  and....

help each other tailor and use these options for analyzing and resolving most role and relationship problems. This includes evolving a strategy to spot and resolve these three common  stressors.

      Popular alternatives to this are allowing your false selves to fight, blame, argue, defer, ignore, pre-tend, intellectualize, preach, threaten, hint, numb out, debate, explain, manipulate, give up or in, interrogate, whine, run away, and/or collapse. See your favorites here?

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Q22)  My mate and I disagree on whether we're a stepfamily or not. Should I/we be concerned about this?

      YES! If any of your family adults ignore or minimize your step-identity and/or what that identity means, that puts your adults and kids at high risk of...

  • using unrealistic biofamily expectations in negotiating your stepfamily roles and relationships, and...

  • ignoring vital biofamily- merger adjustment tasks - i.e. trivializing or ignoring Lesson 7.

These can increasingly stress your primary relationship. If you're unsure whether your family adults and kids accept your step-identity, read and discuss this overview.

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Q23)  My partner complains I'm too attentive to my ex mate (my kids' other bioparent). I disagree, and feel misunderstood and judged unfairly. What are my options?

      See these articles for perspective and solutions:

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Q24My partner ignores 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, and/or says I'm oversensitive, or "Grow up," or we fight or avoid each other. What can I do?    

      Often feeling ignored or discounted (disrespected) by your mate when your stepkids are present suggests one or more of these primary problems:

You've married someone who (so far) can't genuinely give your re/marriage (i.e. your needs) enough priority vs. your stepkids. If so, your primary need is for your mate to...

  • acknowledge this, and...

  • want to change his or her priorities for personal benefit, vs. to please you.

If s/he can't or won't, you've probably re/married the wrong people, and need to grieve (accept) that and evaluate your best long-term options; and/or...

Your mate's priorities are significantly shaped by guilts and shame, and s/he doesn't know how to reduce these yet. If this is true, the real problem is probably inherited psychological wounds and unawareness; and/or...

Your mate and/or stepchild/ren haven't grieved their major losses from prior divorce or death well enough, so they're not able to genuinely include you yet. If they're ruled by false selves, they may be stuck in their grieving and not know that or what to do about it. See Lesson 3; and/or...

You haven't...

  • declared and validated your personal rights,

  • dug down to identify your primary needs;

  • asserted your primary needs effectively to your partner yet, and/or...

  • you have, but s/he's not hearing you (Q7); and/or...

  • you haven't accepted the ex mate as a full, legitimate member of your stepfamily; and/or...

One or both of you mates are ignoring or dismissing your stepfamily identity, or you accept it, but don't know what this identity means to you and your kids. These promote unrealistic priorities and expectations, like "In an impasse, stepparents shouldn't expect their mate to value their re/marriage over their kids." (Reality: believing this promotes re/divorce, long term.);

and/or...

One or both of you are heeding harmful advice ("The kids should come first on typical visits, and the stepparent should accept that.") from a misinformed friend or "expert;" and/or...

You mates haven't evolved an effective strategy for resolving stepfamily loyalty conflicts and relationship triangles yet; and/or...

One or more stepkids are instinctively forcing your mate to choose between you and them to ease normal anxieties about (a) losing status in the family and/or (b) parental abandonment (insecurity). This is specially likely if they have had a low-nurturance childhood.

Bottom line - you have a right to feel noticed and important (respected), vs. invisible, and your mate and stepkids do too. Your mate must accept that to avoid probable psychological or legal re/divorce...

  • s/he will have to choose between you and the kids over and over again. This is normal and inevitable in typical stepfamilies - no one is wrong or bad;

  • long term, your relationship must come second only to your wholistic health and integrities;.

  • you mates must forge an effective loyalty-conflict strategy as co-equal partners - ideally starting in courtship.

       This brief YouTube video offers perspective on these conflicts:

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Q25My partner and I can't agree on (a) conceiving a child together, or (b) legally adopting a stepchild. What are our options?

      This sounds like a dispute over several important surface issues (conceive or not, adopt or not). If so, your first option is to assess whether you each are guided by a true Self or not. If not, make freeing your true Selves your highest priority after your respective wholistic healths.

      Next, use awareness, empathic listening, and dig-down skills to reveal what your and your partner's primary needs are in this family context. Then see if you can negotiate those rather than the surface issues.

      Your third option is to discuss your respective specific life priorities, and see if you agree on them. If you disagree, work to evolve and apply an effective strategy for resolving major values conflicts - as teammates, vs. opponents.

      Fourth, read and discuss this article about conceiving an "ours" child, and/or this one about adopting a stepchild. See if they add new perspective and options.

      Finally, your disputes may come from the way you're trying to resolve your differences - i.e. whether you're problem-solving or ''something else.''  Read and discuss this.

      If these options don't solve your impasse, consider using qualified professional help.

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Q27)  My 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?  

      Prepare: a minor or grown stepchild coming to live with you will not significantly stress your primary relationship if you each...

  • are steadily guidede by your true Selves or are working to free them; and...

  • have studied and discussed Lessons 1 thru 7 here and can "pass" all these quizzes; and...

  • are clear and agreed on your personal priorities - wholistic health and integrity first, your adult relationship second, and all else third, except in emergencies; and you...

  • are practiced at analyzing and resolving role and relationship problems as partners; and you co-parents...

  • have an effective joint strategy for avoiding or managing these three stressors; and you each...

  • understand the special needs of typical stepkids, and are willing to help fill them; and all you co-parents...

  • know how to evaluate stepfamily advice

      How many typical stepfamily adults (and advisors) do you think could describe each of these requisites? My experience as a veteran stepfamily therapist and educator is - none.

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Q28)  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?

      The probable primary issues are that you're losing respect for your partner, and you haven't found a way to change that so far. Often, loss of respect causes loss of trust as well. You adults have many options:

  • If you have partnered with a shame-based (wounded) person...

    • see this for options, and...

    • assess yourself for psychological wounds;

  • review and discuss this article on respect with your mate;

  • review and discuss this article on trust with your mate;

  • learn how to give effective feedback and "I-messages,"

  • learn how to manage these three common relationship stressors

  • apply this article on setting effective boundaries; and...

  • use these ageless wisdoms.

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Q29My partner calls me by his/her former partner's name, and says "I can't help it."  What can I do?   

      One or more of these are probably true:

Your mate (a) is ruled by a false self and doesn't know it, or (b) s/he isn't willing to assess for it and/or (c) commit to recovering from it; and/or...

You probably don't yet know how to help each other...

  • maintain a two-person awareness bubble,

  • dig down below typical surface problems to the primary needs "beneath," and...

  • agree on who's responsible for filling these needs; and/or...

Your mate hasn't completed essential mourning of prior-relationship losses, and/or (some subselves) still feel strong love and desire for their ex mate. If true, one implication is you both probably made up to three unwise re/marital choices;

You (a) are ruled by a false self and don't admit it; and you aren't yet clear on (b) your personal rights, (c) your current primary needs, and (d) how to assert them and your boundaries effectively using these communication skills.

Bottom line: if your "name problem" significantly hurts, angers, and frustrates you and doesn't fade away after re/wedding, your mate is probably not "the problem" - you both are. Adopt a long-term outlook and the open mind of a student. Then commit to helping each other put your true Selves in charge, and to patiently progress on Lessons 1 thru 7 together.

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Q30)  When should we consider re/marital counseling, and how can we pick an effective counselor?

      Note the difference between stepfamily education (information), counseling (information and advice), and (step)family therapy (assessing and reducing psychological wounds, etc.) From 33 years as a stepfamily therapist, I believe all re/marrying co-parents need stepfamily education early in their courtship.

      If committed stepfamily mates have discussed and tried these options and are still significantly dissatisfied in their relationship; they should seek informed family-system (vs. marital) counseling or therapy. For guidelines on selecting competent professional help, see this and this.

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Q
32)  I worry that a relative or friend who's about to re/marry is making a mistake. What can I do?

      Read this article on giving respectful feedback. Then urge the person to read the informative guidebook Stepfamily Courtship or these articles:

If the person ignores or discounts this education, s/he may be controlled by a false self. If so, review these options, follow these wise guidelines, and let go. If s/he does read these articles, suggest that s/he and her/his partner study Lessons 1 thru 7 together before committing.

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Q33)  What re/marriage resources do you recommend?

      I have studied stepfamilies and re/marriage full time professionally since 1979. The reason this educational Web site exists is partly because of (a) the tragic U.S. divorce epidemic, and (b) I could find no books or materials that adequately prepared average men and women for long-lasting marriage with or without prior kids.

      The most useful resources I know are this online self-improvement course and these related guidebooks. For more perspective and other authors' viewpoints, read this article, and then see these recommended readings. Though useful for raising awareness, none of them considers the compound impact of the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle and the epidemic hazards it causes.
 
      This also applies to the many well-meant Web sites that claim to offer helpful advice to stepfamily adults ad supporters. While the sites may offer a way to chat with other steppeople, their advice is always superficial and often misleading. 

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