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  • Counseling and/or book?

    September 11th, 2010

    Dear Authors,
    I dropped into my local library today and came across this book, whose title hit me so hard, cause it’s right where I am and its the information I need right now to equip me to move forward with my life after too many years of being unhappy in a safe, ok relationship, that I’ve outgrown and that feels like its not going anywhere that I want to be taken. I have a life to live and I have no more time to waste on an empty, albeit cordial relationship when there is so much more to life than obligation and duty… I need change, before my life blows away like a vapor! I am so glad I saw this book, the information inside has already pushed me in a positive direction in helping me to look at and face some issues that are very scary for me. I already feel less afraid and much more hopeful. Thank you for this book and I’ve only had it for like… 7 hours! What kind of counseling would you recommend for me, on-line or other thrifty counseling/coaching?
    Sincerely, C.

    Dear C,
    We are so glad our book is helpful to you. Have you considered giving your partner the book? Do you think there is any chance of opening a real dialogue between you, although from your email it sounds as if you have tried everything you could think of, and for a long time.

    We 100% support your decision to seek a coach/counselor to help you through the next leg of your journey. We do not know much about on-line counseling, nor do we necessarily think it is the best idea. We think person to person coaching/counseling is preferable. If that’s difficult, phone conversations would still be better than on-line. Only as a last resort would we recommend coaching/counseling via email. Low cost counseling can usually be arranged through local mental health centers, or through approved providers listed in your health care coverage, if it includes mental health. The best thing is to meet with two or three qualified people and choose the one you like best. We don’t know where you are located or how available these services are in your area. Dr. Birnbach could speak with you by phone, but even with a discount that might be expensive for you.

    We were very much appreciated your email. It is so well written and expressive of your feelings.
    Thank you for the trust you place in us.
    All the best,
    Dr. Lawrence Birnbach and Dr. Beverly Hyman

    Dear Authors,
    Hello and good morning, so very nice to hear from you.  I am considering giving the book to my spouse, he has been out of town since I started reading it and will be back tomorrow.  There is a chance of opening a real dialogue and I plan on this book being that bridge for us.  I have tried many things, but it’s possible when he sees how serious I am and that I am creating a plan for myself, that he make wake up a bit, but we will see.  I have been asking for change for years, but this book is helping me verbalize specific things that I want or need to see in order to move forward.  One of the most helpful parts of the book was reading about all the myths and realities of seperation and divorce which has given me confidence and courage to being breaking out of my shell of fear concerning the things that help to hold me there.

    I hear you on the on-line counseling and I agree that person to person is best.  Thanks for the advice.  I don’t know where the conversation or my plan will lead, but just know I have to take the proverbial reins or I will get what I get.  Much gratitude toward you and your husband for writing this book, can’t believe how timely it is, but most likely it’s timely because there is a great need for it in the current culture.

    Thank you for the compliments on my writing (I aspire to be a writer one day) and would be honored for you to post the email as a review without my name on your website and you have my permission.  I truly hope it encourages someone else who is hurting and looking for information to take that next step.  Again, thanks for taking your time to reply back to me, deeply grateful for your input.  Take care and will send you an email update in the future to let you know how things play out.


    Is divorce the answer?

    September 11th, 2010

    I’m busy divorcing my husband after finding out he’s been lying for 4 years about a “friendship” with another woman. He moved out a week ago. How do I know if I’m doing the right thing or should forgive him and try again? I don’t want to regret applying for divorce but I also don’t want to throw away more time with someone who doesn’t love/want me as much. Is there like a quiz or something that can help out?

    Dear J,
    We are sorry for what you have been going through and we sympathize with your situation. It’s hard to give you a solid response without knowing where your husband wants things to go. Has he given up the other woman or is he sincerely willing to? Does he want the marriage to continue? What else is he willing to do to make that happen? Will he go into counseling with you? You two need to talk about what has been troubling him, and you need to talk to him about what troubles you about him, in addition to the infidelity.
    In our book we recommend divorce as a last resort, only after you have tried all other options including really open and honest communication and counseling with a mental health professional or clergyman. One thing you and your husband might do is take our marriage test; it’s at the end of the book. This will help you both identify the problems that have led you to this terrible time. We wish you a lot of luck.

    I don’t feel special anymore

    September 11th, 2010

    Even before the 25th anniversary my marriage lost intimacy and joy. We mainly talk about the adult kids and argue about dealing with our debt. I don’t feel that he feels I am special anymore. Our mutual moments of sharing happiness being together are rare. We are in our early 50?s. Is it just time to move on? L

    Dear L,
    You and your husband are experiencing a problem that affects many couples who have been married a long time. The demands of life can easily wear you down. Dr. Birnbach meets people in private practice frequently who are experiencing something similar to what you describe. Moving on is a last resort for when you have tried everything else with persistence to try to rejuvenate the relationship. You need a willing partner and probably would benefit from professional help. At the very least you must tell your spouse that you no longer feel special to him and that this is driving you away.

    Inter-cultural marriage

    September 11th, 2010

    Just wondering about your thoughts on marrying a Chinese person in China. I am Jewish, born and raised in NYC. Is it wise to go into a relationship that already has a handicap? By handicap I mean, language – communication issues and culture gaps. Also what about raising kids? Are there long term possibilities in this situation? Thanks for your insight. Z

    Dear Z,
    We sympathize with your concerns, they are serious and genuine. Still, if you truly love each other and talk about the difficulties extensively in advance of making any marriage plans, you can, like other motivated couples from vastly different backgrounds, work things out. There will be challenges, as in any marriage, and, perhaps more because of the differences you mention. In our book we refer to 9 areas all couples must be in agreement on. This would be a good start for your conversations. They include agreements about: money, parenting, sex, alcohol/drug substance use, relationships with extended family, religion, household responsibilities and gender roles, career, and use of leisure time.

    Agreement vs Court

    September 11th, 2010

    If my wife and I reach agreement – she gets the house, her retirement funds, her car, and I get the retirement money, my car, and personal things – will the courts force us to split things up 50/50?

    Dear B,
    This is a question for your attorney, but, as in all mediated settlements, we believe, if the court doesn’t enter the picture you may divide things as you both agree to in a written agreement.

    Kids College Support in a divorce

    September 11th, 2010

    If my daughter and wife take out private college loans and I am not the co-signer (my wife only), will the courts try to split this up and force me to pay if we divorce? My daughter is headed to freshman yr at college and will need to take private loans every year -because we don’t have the money for this expensive educ. We live in MA and a woman friend who has been thru it says this is what will happen? B

    This is definitely a question for your attorney.


    September 11th, 2010

    My husband of 30 years has emotionally; three times physically and financially abused me. I left him about 6 weeks ago after two years of therapy. He now is saying how much he loves me; and couldn’t imagine his life without me. We are in marriage counseling but how can I trust him again? My therapist says he is a “classic abuser” but I am not so sure. Is there any hope of getting back together again? T

    Dear T,
    There is hope, but you need a lot of assurance before we’d urge you to live with this man again. It’s great that he has gone into marriage counseling with you, but has he gone for counseling individually to work on his anger and power issues? That seems essential on two counts: one to assure your future happiness together, but another to demonstrate clearly that he recognizes his need to change his behavior permanently, and his willingness to acquire the tools to do it. Don’t rush back; six weeks is not nearly long enough for him to demonstrate real conviction.

    The purpose of marriage?

    September 11th, 2010

    Recently I considered marrying my boyfriend because he is from India and his Visa was running out, and he couldn’t get a job during the recession. I ended up deciding it wasn’t right for me right now, and not for the right reasons, even though I could see myself marrying him eventually. My parents were very against it, too. Luckily, he found a job in the last minute, and we are now closer than ever. But the big question I have, now that I’ve thought about it so much, is: What is the purpose of marriage? Some say to raise a family, some say for financial reasons, some for religious reasons, some say for security… but what’s the true purpose? Do you need to be married to be fully committed to eachother? Just curious what you think on this topic. I know there is no right or wrong answer, really. Thanks. N

    Dear N,
    Yours is a very interesting and profound philosophical question which far too few people ask themselves before embarking on a marriage. Marriage certainly can satisfy all the things you describe, but it’s much more than that. Commitment is a process. The marriage ceremony is one step in the process, an important one. It publicly announces to the whole community that you two affirm to all that you are partners with the intention of being partners for life. We, the authors, have been together for 15 years and we still feel that we are becoming more committed and married as time goes by. We lived together for 4 years before we got married and there was a genuine difference for both of us when we decided to take that step.

    To get to the other part of your question, “What is the purpose of marriage?” in our opinion one gets married to have a partner, a companion to share your life with. In our book and on our website, www.howtoknowifitstimetogo.com, we offer a Marriage Bill of Rights which describes all the positive things that a married couple should provide for one another. Check it out.

    Affair after 50 years

    September 11th, 2010

    My wife and I have been married for 51 yrs. Recently I discovered my wife has been carrying on a love affair via email for more than a year. She claims that I do not pay enough attention to her. The other man is 82 yrs old and an old friend. She claims she has always had a special place in her heart for him. She also says she loves me a lot. I have emailed him asking him to end this for the sake of our families. His wife is in the beginning stages of alzheimers and does not have any sexual outlet. He lives in Florida and plans to visit our town in Aug. I have invitied him to visit US if he so chooses. I love my wife deeply. M

    Dear M,
    Your situation is serious; your happiness and your marriage sound like they are at stake. You must recognize that no one can come between a couple unless there is already space. Your wife is telling you that there is a large distance between the two of you created, at least in large measure, by your lack of attention to her. There may be other issues between you as well, and on both your parts. Because the situation is so serious why don’t you go together and seek marriage counseling to find out how such a big space opened between you and how you can start to close it?

    We do agree with you that your wife needs to choose between you and the other gentleman. Assuming that she wants to stay married to you, she should end the other relationship. You are playing with fire by inviting him to your home and considering him a dear old friend. He betrayed you. He is obviously needy because of his wife’s condition and should consider seeking therapy himself to try to deal with his grief about possibly losing his wife

    Divorce Rate

    September 11th, 2010

    Is divorce rate still hovering 50%? Is not unusual for a marriage to be 12, 15 even 20 or 30 years old and still divorcing? Do separations occur as a way to gain perspective- not necessarily the next step to divorce but to have space to try working on issues? Do marriages stay in counseling for over 10 years? For longer? How much can one settle and tolerate? Is there such a thing as chemistry between 2 people? If physical intimacy is great at the get go, can it last forever? K

    Dear K,
    You have many questions. Are you worried only about your own marriage, or thinking about your parents’ marriage as well? Your questions bridge different age ranges. Here are answers. Yes, divorce rates are still high in the U.S. and Western Europe, about 40%. Yes, people divorce sometimes after many years of marriage. We don’t recommend separations except as a last resort. Our experience tells us that most separations do end in divorce. Rarely does counseling last anything like ten years. People vary enormously in their ability as to what they can or will tolerate from a spouse. Yes, there is such a thing as chemistry and it can last, sometimes forever, although it changes over and over as time goes by which is what keeps it fresh.


    September 11th, 2010

    Why is it that some many people hesitate to divorce – even when it becomes clear that the bonds that hold a marriage together are broken? What keeps them in trial separation only to return to the same pattern (maybe over and over again). So the real question is – when or under what conditions can people decide? Is there an ‘acid’ test? I know someone who decided to return to an unhealthy relationship (he is not alone) and is still unhappy but stuck. So is the test courage plus?? Thanks for your thoughts. L

    Dear L,
    This is the central subject of our book How to Know If It’s Time to Go: A 10 Step Reality Test for Your Marriage. Don’t be so hard on yourself and others for not taking the step to divorce. It’s a difficult decision to make. There are so many fears and myths that surround divorce such as whether we will be alone, be ruined financially, damage our children, etc. As we recommend in the book, divorce is a last resort. Couples benefit from trying in every way possible to get the marriage back on track. The acid test is when you have tried everything over an extended period of time and it hasn’t worked. Most people who have divorced, after a transition of a couple of years of readjustment, feel that they and their children are better off and wonder why they waited years too long.