Tools for "Suffering In Style."

Resign As General Manager of the Universe

Live in the Moment

Schedule Joy in Your Life

Think Like an Optimist

Think about Thinking

                                    Life Changing Books

A Gift from the Sea - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

If You Meet the Buddha On the Road, Kill Him- Sheldon Kopp, MD

Man's Search for Meaning -Viktor Frankl, MD

The Road Less Travelled - M. Scott Peck, MD

When Bad Things Happen To Good People - Rabbi Harold J Kushner

Less is More the Paradox of Choice - Barry Schwartz

The Search for Momma and the Meaning of Life- Irvin Yalom, MD

Flying Without Wings Personal Reflections on Being Disabled - Arnold Beisser, MD

« Some belated New Year's thoughts | Main | How Death Saved My Life »

If Love is the Answer

Lily Tomlin asks “if love is the answer, could you please rephrase the question? “ We all have struggled with family relationships and love. As a marriage counselor I am a relationship expert whose longest stable relationship is with a bearded collie, a Scottish Sheepdog. My significant other has fleas. I certainly don’t live a perfect life with all the answers but I have spent over 25 years living intimately with 100's of families. I see how difficult it is to connect and,yet,how vital it is to our happiness.
The choice of a life partner is the most important decision we make. As Socrates points out “by all means marry, if you get a good wife you'll be happy. If you get a bad one you'll become a philosopher.” Your chances are only as good as your choices. In fact, that’s one of the reasons that Beardies and I have lasted for over 30 years, I went to dog shows, researched different breeds, and temperaments. Yet, when I chose my ex husband I went for big arms, hopefully because I was 17 at the time.
I’ve learned over the years what works and what doesn’t. Ironically, most of the happy marriages I see are in my bereavement group where one of the partners is dead. Oh course, that is somewhat disingenuous because only people who are having relationship problems come to counseling but as you know you often learn more from what doesn’t work. For example, we know the 4 horsemen of divorce are criticism, defensiveness, contempt and withdrawal.
We’re now studying happy marriages too and know that there are 5 times more positive interactions for every negative one in good relationships. There is also much to be learned from our pets. The unconditional acceptance (since living with Mulligan all my annoying habits have disappeared) allows us to be ourselves which is a prerequisite for connection - this acceptance allow us access to our own tenderness and we feel better about

                                           This I know for sure:

Love is not a feeling it is a behavior - we never know for sure whether someone loves us but we do know whether we are treated lovingly and we teach people how to treat us.

Kindness is more important than honesty. For example, Mulligan never points out how disappointed he is that the dog next door got young boys to play with and all he got was me.

Would you rather be right or would you rather be in a relationship? In a relationship there are either two winners or two losers. Wake up every morning look in the mirror and say “you’re no bargain either”

Finally, as with everything else our expectations create our disappointments. In one of my favorite movies about love “Moonstruck”
Cher is telling Nicholas Cage why it won’t work between them and he says, “Love don’t make things right it ruins everything, we’re not here to be perfect. The stars they’re perfect. We’re here to love the wrong people, ruin our lives and die.” That’s why it’s so important that while we’re ruining our lives, loving the wrong people and dying we have a good time.

Reader Comments (3)

Wonderful piece Judy. I am posting this on my Facebook page. I love the way your mind braids the tough stuff with your humor. Keep on writing - we need you.

February 21, 2010 | Unregistered

Brilliant and very comforting. Thank you

February 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterfrancesca

oh, those pesky expectations . . . will get you almost every time. Really enjoyed your piece. Timely. (Friend of Tracey's)

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPace Cooke

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