Friday, May 25, 2012

Why Good Marriages Fail

                                    WHY GOOD MARRIAGES FAIL:


                                          Stephen Martin, MS. MFT.

Having spent the past 32 years working as a therapist guiding marriages, I have watched too many good marriages turn sour. I continually ask myself what causes this disastrous turn of events. No one gets married thinking it will fail, yet the divorce rates are too high.

My observation is that three causes are the predominant reasons for the failure of otherwise good marriages. If these three aspects of a marriage are understood and negotiated, marriages can escape the disaster of a divorce. If however, you let your relationship drift into neglect, this could destroy your relationship whether you get a divorce or not. Many couples elect to have an unhappy, lonely marriage rather than find a solution to their issues or get a divorce.

Why do so many marriages fail? First observation is that married couples begin to lose sight of their common purpose, the reason they got married in the first place. The couple had solid reasons for their marriage when it began. Most people use their wisdom and intuition to select a partner. Some might call this intuition romance, but romance alone will not sustain a marriage for a lifetime. With the passing of time and the inevitable growing apart that all marriages experience, you can lose sight of your original purpose for marriage. Some people accept divorce as a natural conclusion to losing their purpose. Others, who wish to continue their marriages, fight to regain that purpose and in so doing they can negotiate their way back into harmony instead of the continuing power struggle that occurs when two people are not working as a team, but rather are competing with each other and fighting most of the time.

If you have children together that is an excellent reason to stay married. Family is the original noble purpose for marriage. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, it was fashionable to get divorced and assume the children would be better off if they witnessed their parents happy rather than unhappily married. The research doesn’t support that conclusion. Children are often emotionally crippled by divorce if they are less than 18 years of age. Children crave security, especially in an unsafe world. If their parents cannot work out their problems, how can they imagine they can work out their issues? Children are the silent victims of divorce, and the current research proves that to be true.

Secondly, the couple loses the gentle art of communication and begins to be nasty and dishonorable towards each other. Just look at the two party systems in politics in the USA today. There is not gentle communication in politics. It starts out mean and nasty and only gets worse. Political parties have become enemies. Politics is now an internal war. If America was a marriage, it would be need to be divorced. Both parties are equally responsible for this behavior. They blame the other and refuse to compromise, while saying they are both willing to co-operate. This is not good for the country, and is disaster for a marriage. 

Marriage requires a gentle loving communication system, not a make no compromise position that the current political system has descended into. Marriage requires romance and civility, kindness and respect. Romance isn’t a one way street. Men require romance and civility just as much as women. Something is rotting inside politics today and we all know it. If you run your marriage the way politics is run, you will have nothing left but hatred, anxiety and chaos. Politics is for the political junkies to watch, not quiet, civil people who want harmony and respect in their lives. Politics will bring you emotional pain and fatigue, and so will a marriage that uses the tactics of politics within their marriages.

Third, marriages start to lose trust and belief in the sincerity, compassion and the love of their partner. This distrust begins in small areas and over years can develop into complete distrust. But once distrust sets in, it is like termites infecting your house. Termites are everywhere, and if infected, your home will need a tent with heavy duty chemicals to remove the millions of infesting insects. Trust is hard to re-establish. It requires honest communication and complete transparency between the couple. But without trust, marriages will eventually fail.

So, if you wish to have a good marriage, go in the opposite direction to politics as it is currently practiced. Find and renew your common team vision as a marriage, speak kindly and lovingly with each other, and compromise with honest communication to rebuild the trust in your partnership. Finally, leave politics to the politicians and the political junkies and rather than follow their example, use them as a lighthouse deacon warning of dangerous rocks that can ship wreck your marriage.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Achieving New Year Resolutions

Three Keys To Achieving Your New Year’s Resolutions:

Now that the new year has arrived, many people are thinking about changes they want to make so that they can be happier or more effective — or just better people.A new year seems like a good time to begin assessing the coming 12 months, just like midlife is a good time to assess how you are doing with your life. New Year’s resolutions are common in our society and they can be very effective in producing change.So what changes do you want to produce this year? Do you have financial goals? Relationship issues you want to explore and change? Or are there dark sides to your nature that need to be examined, cared for and nurtured into a healthier place?New Year’s resolutions usually fail because most people do not give the goals and objectives much thought. They are merely a passing fancy. “I want to lose weight.” “I want to make more money.” The trouble with these types of statements is that they have no depth of intention, no specific details, no thoughtfulness or determination to produce results. It becomes like people buying lottery tickets and fantasizing they will win big and end all their financial troubles. Good plans must have character. They have intention, procedures, insight and follow-through.First, you must know what you want to achieve. That can often be hard, especially if you prefer to live in the moment and not plan for the future. Goals must be realistic, not pie-in-the-sky wishes. Remember, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Make certain you have achievable goals that are measurable and realistic.Second, you must establish measurable steps that will carry you towards your ultimate goal. If you want to make more money, define the small steps that will lead to achievements along the way towards the ultimate goal; that way you can measure your progress. Once some small progress is made, the goal begins to have character and it gains momentum. Most goals aren’t achieved because they are too broad and too unrealistic, and there’s no plan of action to reach the end result.Finally, achieving resolutions requires visualization of the results and the unity of the unconscious and conscious mind working in harmony to produce the result you want. Always remember that the unconscious is the most powerful part of our consciousness. Setting the unconscious on course requires visualization, affirmations and daily meditation towards the success you want. No easy task. And that is precisely why most people fail in their resolutions. They do not have the determination or follow-through to achieve the objectives they think they want.So if you want to succeed this year with goals and objectives, make certain they are measurable and clear, that you have small goals to achieve before the big goal is reached, and that you work every day with both your conscious and especially your unconscious mind to achieve what you want for your life. Stephen Martin is a marriage and family therapist in Moss Beach. He has practiced on the Coastside for over 30 years. He can be reached at 650-726-1212 or by email at His website,, offers more information.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Psychology Today published chapter five of my book "The Everything Guide to a Happy Marriage".
The topic is fair fighting inside marriage.
Check out the article.
Also check out the free marital test at