Love Lost

May 24, 2018 Losing Love Audio version- http://chirb.it/7HAP4k Losing a longtime love is never easy. I know. Nine months ago, I lost the love of my life that I had been with for 49 years.  She lost her battle with cancer.  So, here’s some information and advice from someone who has had first-hand experience. Firstly, let’s establish this. You have not lost love. You have lost THAT love in the form it had existed. At this point, I’m not sure what will happen, but I do know that there will always be love in some form.  It’s still too early to know if there will be another significant other, but I do know that I still love.  Love comes in many forms. I love my children.  I love my grandchildren. I love my extended family. I love my friends. I’m at the other end of the time spectrum.  As my good friend and college football teammate likes to remind me, “We’re in the “fourth quarter, baby.” Regardless of which “quarter” you are in the game of life, losing a love from a breakup, a death, or for any other reason is hard.  When you have exposed all your vulnerabilities to another human being, you are open for a world of hurt.  But not allowing yourself to be vulnerable and close means you will never experience the incredible level of joy and fulfillment that accompanies a close relationship. Breakups, for whatever reason (and death is most certainly one of those), can be incredibly painful.  Keep in mind that the mirror image of grief is love. The deeper the love, the greater the...

Love’s Vision Board

May 16, 2018 Love’s Vision Board Audio version-  http://chirb.it/ELasys A number of years ago a few days after my hip operation I was in our entertainment room watching television.  My wife came in and shut the TV off.  She announced that we were going to do a vision board.  I was a captive audience since it was difficult for me to move around.  She brought in a tri-fold cardboard about three feet by four feet and markers. Like the incredible educator she was, she stood at the front of my “classroom,” writing our vision for our future of things we wanted to do.  She explained that by putting it all down in writing on a board, it was much more likely to happen. A vision board for love will work much in the same way.  It takes a somewhat advanced relationship, but once a couple has decided that they want to be together, they should define how they would like to see their relationship evolve.  Anything they want to have happen should be put on the board – family, finances, vacations, social interaction, intimacy goals, decorating, division of household tasks, etc.  Some of you may be asking what most of these have to do with love, but they all do. Each has some part in serious relationships.  By writing it all down, memorializing it, there should be no unspoken expectations. Often, it’s the unspoken expectations that create a lot of conflict in marriages and relationships. Unspoken expectations are when one party just simply expects the other to know what they want, know where to go, assume that it’s the other’s job, and...

Spiritual Love

May 9, 2018 Spiritual Love Audio version- After the first date with my wife I went home and told my parents that I had met my bride. I was smitten. I knew I had found romantic love, but little did I know I was a very long way from spiritual love.  In fact, I was clueless.  It took years of trying to understand ourselves and each other before we could truly even understand what spiritual love meant. B’shert is a Yiddish word that translates to: “a person’s soulmate.” It extends far beyond romantic love.  With the exception of arranged marriages, we often hear young brides and grooms proclaim they have found their soulmate, regardless of their religious affiliation.  It’s a nice thought, and maybe their love will become spiritual at some point, but, though they may have found their romantic soulmate, they, too, would be clueless about having a spiritual soulmate. Spiritual love takes years to develop and many obstacles to overcome. I’m reminded of my freshman year in college.  I enrolled in a class taught by a professor who was internationally renown in his field.  He asked to see me after the first class.  He told me he did not allow freshmen in his class.  Being a brash 18-year old, I asked why.  He said that freshmen did not possess the maturity to get everything he thought students should get out of his class.  I made him a deal.  I would go through the whole semester, do all the assignments, and take all the tests. If I did not meet his standards, he should fail me, and I would not...

The Relationship Transition

May 2, 2018 The Relationship Transition Audio version-  http://chirb.it/vtwsxH For some going from being single to a committed relationship, marriage or otherwise, is often not an easy task. This transition sometimes has many obstacles that are a result of just innocent dating habits.  Unfortunately, when this transition is not handled properly, it has the potential to ruin an otherwise good relationship.  It all depends on the individuals involved and their willingness to make the transition. As with the old psychologist’s joke, “How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?”, the answer is, “It only takes one, but the light bulb has to want to change.” Many want it both ways.  They don’t want to give up the fun and excitement of doing whatever they want, whenever they want, and with whomever they want, but they also want to be in a serious, committed relationship. I’ve had many couples in therapy with one, and sometimes both, asking why she/he can’t go to Vegas (or anywhere else) with a group of girlfriends or boyfriends.  This extends to many other activities like camping, as well.  This isn’t to say people can’t have individual activities. Even if nothing goes on, one has to consider the optics of the situation. A number of years ago I was at a conference checking into my hotel room.  Most of the time my wife and I attended conferences together, even though it may have been for only one of us. This time I was solo.  Another psychologist, a female, approached me, nicely asked if I would like to save money and split a room since...

Relationship Chemistry

April 27, 2018 Relationship Chemistry Audio version-  http://chirb.it/kBesOC In many ways relationships are similar to combinations of elements that create chemical reactions.  Some blend together and create another entirely different substance that is very useful, while other combinations create highly volatile, explosive substances that can blow up with very little provocation. However, the similarities stop there.  While the combination of various elements and reactions of putting them together have been well documented scientifically, the combinations of different people and personalities is anything but scientifically predictable. If one combines two hydrogen atoms with one oxygen atom, the result is, H2O, water, the basis of much of life.  But let’s examine another “chemical” reaction between two people. A number of years ago a couple came in to see me for help. They were each of different religious backgrounds but, though spiritual, were not particularly religious. They had never even thought about what would happen if they combined their religions in a family situation. Their five-year old had come home one day asking to go to Sunday school like his friends. The mother had said not to worry, that she would enroll him in the temple religious school the following Monday.  The father said, no, that he would take him to the family church and enroll him on Monday.  The couple had never talked about nor considered the consequences of religion for themselves of raising a child. While some couples work through this with little to no difficulty, both of these people became quite adamant about their positions when it came to their child.  The situation exploded in a nasty divorce. Religion...

Relationship Math

April 18, 2018 Relationship Math Audio version-  http://chirb.it/NakBfM Imagine for a moment that you have wheels and tires, an engine, a chassis, a can of gasoline, etc., but they are all separate. Not much you can do with them.  They are just parts.  However, put them all together properly, and you have a vehicle that can transport you.  The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The same is true when it comes to Relationship Math, but it can work both positively and negatively. In a good relationship two people together bring out the best in each other.  Together they present a powerful and positive relationship.  In this case, one plus one equals more like three.  They have created their own “vehicle” with which to transport their relationship to a higher level. But the opposite is true when there are relationship problems.  One plus one equals something less than two. Depending upon how bad things are will determine just how much less.  They may be relatively okay by themselves, but the two people tend to bring out the worst in each other.  In this example putting them together as a whole only underscores each person’s negative traits. My wife and I were certainly known professionally individually, but many times we were just introduced as “The Yellens.”  People often commented about how powerful we were together as a team.  As an example, when there were adversarial school situations, parents often asked both of us to attend together even though either of us could have accomplished the same thing. Often, we were told that we were much more powerful together...