Friday, January 27, 2012

Same Old, Same Old

So, you're arguing.
Not just arguing, but arguing repeatedly.

Like so many couples, like so many families, like so many lovers, you were seeking love, peace and fun. But you got fighting instead, with frustration and, upset thrown in.

It's a sad thing. Or, at least it was.

There's a story about a guy who falls into an open manhole. People walk by and look down, and offer suggestions, and then go on their way. Finally his best friend happens by, and he calls up to him for help. In response, his friends jumps down into the hole with him!

"Why did you do that?" the man shouts.

"Because I've been here myself, and I know the way out. And because I have faith, that with my support, you can find your way out."

I'm a mediator, and I've spent the last ten years jumping down into the hole with couples, and supporting them in their efforts to  find their way out.

This is a blog about that journey, and about the book my wife and I are writing about it.

 I also want this to be a place to  talk about the new things I learning as they happen, because I do learn something from each couple almost every session.  Obviously, I'll need to protect my clients' privacy, so I'll either be describing the new concepts I learn, or I'll change enough of the details so even they wouldn't recognize themselves.

I'm excited about getting the bulk of what we've learned down in the book, because my wife and I have co-created a skill set (on top of the huge pile of wisdom we've inherited from others - which we will also share here) that can take a couple, even one that has done years of couples counseling and are still on the brink of divorce, back into the intimacy and love that brought them together in the first place. And we can do this in just six sessions.

In fact, that's how we're writing the book - in six sections to coincide with our six sessions. So it will be just like being on our couch with us in our home/office. We realized we weren't going to be able to get all of you who need our little process onto our couch, or even into our office so we decided to bring our couch to you.  Try not to spill anything on it.

I'll also answer questions about those same old arguments, if you leave them here as comments.

So, if you were going to sit down on my couch, with or without your partner, what would you want to know about your Same Old Arguments?

Monday, January 23, 2012


I have a new client who feels stuck under the burden of obligation. I let her complain for a couple of weeks about being the victim of her family’s traditions, but this week I let her have it. The very first time she said the word “obligation” I broke into her tirade and said, “Yes, you did choose obligation.”

She looked up confused. It seemed I was agreeing with her, but there was something off with the way I did it. “Choose?” she said. “I didn’t choose it, that’s the point.”

“That’s true, once you choose choicelessness, there don’t seem to be any choices left, but then, you can always unchoose that choice, and then there will be lots of choices.”

NVC says that every moment is choiceful. And the only thing that keeps us from experiencing that, is when we use choiceless language to describe our choiceful existence.

“I didn’t have a choice, I didn’t choose all this obligation! It‘s a family thing.”

“Well your brothers have moved away, and have chosen not to live inside these obligations, so not everyone in your family chose choicelessness. Only you did. And what would your life look like, if you chose differently, rigth now?”

Five Seconds of Love

I’m working with a couple who, like too many others these days, worship the god, Stress.

They believe (because they are believers) that there is no choice. They work, raise their new son, and “do” their life, one task after another, until they finally arrive at the promised land: exhaustion.

Once there, they (finally) can advocate (a little) for themselves, and they do so in the prescribed way, they get angry at their spouse for not doing enough.

Then they come to me to mediate the “problem” they are having with their spouse.

Marriage is a sacrament and should be treated sacredly. Elise and I developed a morning prayer. Whichever of us awakens first, as soon as the other stirs awake, we start the process by saying: “Take a deep breath.” The two of us breathe together - the first breath of the day.
Then we say, “Our breath blesses this day.” Another breath.

This five second ritual starts the day in blessing, in gratitude, in sacredness and in togetherness.

Of course, you probably don’t have time to do this with your spouse. There’s just so much to do!