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  • Interview With Larry [1:47]

    October 30th, 2010

    Library Journal

    September 11th, 2010

    Psychoanalyst Birnbach and organizational consultant Hyman team up to present a guide for gauging how serious problems are in a marriage, what can be done to resolve them, or whether it’s time to separate and divorce. The authors see divorce as a last resort, but provide a concrete plan for how to prepare and carry it out so it’s as painless as possible.
    Excellent support for those who feel trapped in an unhappy marriage.


    When Is Divorce the Answer?

    August 23rd, 2010

    Birnbach book offers “reality test” for troubled marriages

    | FROM ALUMNI BOOKS | BY SUSAN SELIGSON

    How to Know If It’s Time to Go: A 10-Step Reality Test for Your Marriage (Sterling Books) Through July, Lawrence Birnbach (CAS’67) will take your questions about marriage and divorce.

    Both psychoanalyst Birnbach and conflict management consultant, coauthor, and spouse Beverly Hyman were divorced when they met. That is perhaps one of the reasons they take the refreshingly realistic view that while marriages require hard work, divorce happens — and is sometimes the best option for all concerned, including the children. Adhering to the usual self-help format of alternating advice, personal anecdotes, quizzes, and handy lists, the authors offer explicit circumstances under which a couple may be better off apart. They list and periodically refer back to nine areas in which spouses must work out agreements, including the usual suspects — sex, money, and parenting — and more intractable differences, such as those involving substance abuse and religion.

    While bookstore self-help shelves sag under the weight of books about how to repair marriages, the authors deserve credit for acknowledging that divorce is sometimes the only way to salvage the peace, self-respect, productivity, optimism, and futures of those involved. They pummel, one by one, prevailing myths about divorce. “If I hang in there, things will get better in time” is one; another is, “If I were really ready to end it, I’d feel certain … I wouldn’t have such mixed feelings.” Others are fear of never finding another mate, being rejected by the community, facing financial ruin, or the widespread belief that divorce damages children forever.
    What about the children? Using anecdotes drawn from families they’ve counseled, the authors take a hard look at the toll unhappy marriages take on children, affecting their schoolwork, friendships, and mental health.

    For couples who have concluded that they have exhausted every remedy (take one last inventory, the authors advise), Birnbach and Hyman outline financial realities and other hurdles and offer instructive stories of people who improved or reinvented their lives after divorce.

    And for readers who decide to take that step, it might be a good idea to keep the book around — if a second marriage looms, it could pay to revisit the part about how good marriages sour.

    Health News Digest: Book Review

    April 1st, 2010

    By Dr. Lawrence Birnbach and Dr. Beverly Hyman

    Apr 1, 2010 – 3:37:32 PM
    A 10-Step Reality Test for Marriage

    (HealthNewsDigest.com) – “Should I divorce?” It’s a question that haunts millions of people. In their new book, HOW TO KNOW IF IT’S TIME TO GO, Dr. Lawrence Birnbach and Dr. Beverly Hyman help couples find the best answer. Birnbach is a psychoanalyst who specializes in working with individuals and couples in troubled relationships. Hyman is an internationally known consultant specializing in conflict management. In their book, they provide ten steps to help people examine how severe the problems are in their marriages, what they might try to do to improve it, and, if that’s not possible, whether it’s time to get serious about divorce. This unique guide presents the best research, personal examples about divorce drawn from Birnbach’s twenty-five years of counseling individuals and couples, as well as scores of interviews conducted for the book. Whether the decision is to stay and try to work it out, or to go, HOW TO KNOW IF IT’S TIME TO GO will help formulate a step-by-step, concrete plan for action.

    While Drs. Birnbach and Hyman do not advocate divorce, they point out that the most desirable situation—a happy long-term marriage—may simply not be possible in some cases. The book also discusses how the lives of people who stay in chronically unhappy marriages compare with those who split up.

    Filled with poignant case studies, cutting-edge research, a Marriage Bill of Rights, and a 100-question self-assessment to determine the problem areas in a marriage and the possible solutions. This unique guide dispels the myths about divorce and enables couples to recognize if there is still hope for their relationship and how to rekindle it or if they (and their families) are better off apart.

    ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
    Dr. Lawrence Birnbach is a psychoanalyst who specializes in working with individuals and couples in troubled relationships. He maintains private practices in New York City and Westport, Connecticut. His website is www.lbirnbach.com.

    Dr. Beverly Hyman is an internationally known business and organizational consultant specializing in conflict management. She is the chairman of the Dean’s Council at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

    Originally posted at Health News Digest: Book Review, Apr 1, 2010

    Dr. Beth Ericcson, Relationship 101 Radio Host, Marital Counselor and Therapist

    March 23rd, 2010

    “Drs. Lawrence Birnbach and Beverly Hyman have written a one-of-a-kind book called How to Know If It’s Time to Go. It helps people who wrestle with the question of whether to leave their marriage, or to stay.  A conundrum for anyone who faces this dilemma, it is especially poignant and dicey for couples where there are children involved.  In my over thirty-five years as a marriage and family therapist, I have never come across a book that is so thoughtful, thorough and research-based as this book is.  I give this book two thumbs up.”

    Dr. Beth Ericcson, Relationship 101 Radio Host, Marital Counselor and Therapist

    Dr. Judith Warren, Ph.D.

    March 23rd, 2010

    ….I just finished reading the book [How to Know If It’s Time to Go] and plan to recommend it to several of my patients because it looks squarely at what constitutes a viable relationship, helps people assess their own, gives ideas to  improve  marriages,  or if that’s not possible, offers suggestions for successful navigation of separation and divorce.   The book is full of anecdotes to flesh out many situations that patients can identify with and a variety of topics which often cause stress in relationships.  Included are questionnaires to assess relationships.   Throughout the book, therapy is recommended to help resolve problems one way or the other.  I think that it’s an excellent adjunct to our work with both  couples and individuals struggling with relationship issues and that patients would find the book cogent, supportive, and best used in connection with therapy.

    Dr. Judith Warren, Ph.D.
    New York University, Post Doctoral Psychoanalytic Program

    Stanford Lotwin, Board of Managers, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

    March 22nd, 2010

    Re: How To Know If It’s Time To Go

    “As a matrimonial lawyer I have made it a practice to advise my clients that they should be as ‘committed to the divorce as they should have been to the marriage.’ …As a result of your fine book I now have a reference source to refer them to, to wit, How To Know If It’s Time To Go. If there is any doubt at all in a person’s mind about the future of their marriage they should read your book and be guided by the sensible principles and tests set forth therein. Your combined work is a significant contribution in the field of ‘marriage counseling.’”

    Stanford Lotwin, Board of Managers, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

    New York University Alumni Profile

    February 22nd, 2010

    Dr. Lawrence Birnbach MA ’74, PhD ’80, Post Doc ’89 and Dr. Beverly Hyman, PhD ’80

    Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress.
    Working together is success.”  No statement seems more apt to describe marriage and partnerships.  In their new book, “How to Know If It’s Time to Go” (Sterling Publishing, 2010), husband and wife co-authors Dr. Lawrence Birnbach (NYU Steinhardt, 1974, M.A. and 1980, Ph.D. and 1989, Post Doc) and Dr. Beverly Hyman (NYU Steinhardt, 1980, Ph.D.) tackle the emotionally wrought topic of divorce, all the while proving Ford’s theory by successfully researching and writing a book together.

    Birnbach and Hyman first came up with the idea to co-author an article on the topic of divorce while driving to their country home in the Berkshires.  Over the course of their three-hour car rides to and from the country, the conversation often veered toward their own personal experiences with divorce and others they knew struggling through it.  “As we began to research the article, it became clear there was more there,” says Birnbach, a psychoanalyst specializing in relationships with practices in New York City and Westport, CT.  “A lot of [information] is underreported or not dealt with in the literature about divorce that is on the market.”

    Birnbach and Hyman quickly realized that many of the existing books on the topic either continue to propagate or fail to address the misconceptions and myths surrounding divorce, such as “men instigate divorce,” “divorce will drive me to bankruptcy,” or “I will be alone forever.”  So they decided to focus their work on current research and data, true-life stories, and what they see as the “underreported aspects” of divorce.   The result is a resourceful guide geared toward helping those who are struggling to make one of life’s most difficult decisions.

    Natural collaborators, Birnbach and Hyman interviewed more than 100 volunteers made up of friends, family, former patients, current patients, and acquaintances who were willing to share their personal experiences and gave their consent to be included in the book.  Such extensive research allowed the “article” that Birnbach and Hyman set out to write to grow into a 19-chapter book that includes poignant case studies, a 10-step plan, and an unprecedented ‘Marriage Bill of Rights.’

    Hyman, an expert in communications and a consultant for international businesses and organizations such as the United Nations, explains, “[‘How to Know’] is about helping and showing people that [marriage] is about hard work, compromise, and responsibility – it needs to be a win-win model, as opposed to a win-lose model.  This isn’t a zero sum game. The book promotes dialogue for couples who are having trouble and not sure what their next step should be. While it encourages couples to exhaust every remedy to make their marriage work, it also provides a step by step plan to understanding if the marriage can’t be saved. ”

    Continuing on Hyman explains that it was important to tackle the ‘I will always be alone’ myth, saying, “there is data to show that 83% of men and 75% of women will remarry after a split (these figures do not take into account those who choose to cohabitate or are in committed long-term relationships). The fear of being alone, which will keep many men and women from making the choice to divorce, is just that – a fear, and not a fact.”

    The book also explores the financial ramifications of divorce – another area surrounded by myths.  As Birnbach shares, “there is an initial impact on the family’s finances, but usually the individuals are able to re-establish themselves at the same financial level they were at prior to the split.”  Hyman adds, “It’s not well known, but nearly 90% of divorces are uncontested and are able to settle out of court.”

    One of the most common myths that Birnbach and Hyman set out to dispel is that divorce has long term negative effects on children.  “You often hear ‘divorce is terrible for children,'” says Hyman, “but the truth is an unhappy home is far worse for children than a single parent or blended family. The longitudinal studies we looked at showed similar trends; there is an initial decline in behavior and school performance for children in the first year or two after a separation, but studies show that five years following the separation, most children are better off.”

    Although the book focuses on divorce, Birnbach and Hyman agree that, at its core, ‘How to Know’ is about honest communication, which they cite as the most important characteristic in all relationships – but especially marriages and partnerships.

    The reaction to “How to Know When it’s Time to Go” has been overwhelmingly positive.  Birnbach and Hyman have embarked on a whirlwind interview schedule for radio, print and online media, and are set to appear on television later this month.  Quick to agree that they will collaborate on another book, in the meantime, Birnbach and Hyman’s book show us that each person’s situation is unique and that life can go on after divorce.

    To learn more about the authors and the book visit: http://howtoknowifitstimetogo.com/ or to order a copy of the book go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

    Editors’ Note: The article in the Alumni Connect originally published on Friday, February 22, 2010 omitted that co-author Lawrence Birnbach is also an NYU alumnus.  Dr. Birnbach received degrees from NYU Steinhardt – MA ’74 and PhD ’80, Psychology – and GSAS – Post Doc ’87, Psychoanalysis.  Dr. Birnbach practices in Manhattan and Westport, CT.  The article also erroneously stated that the profession of co-author Beverly Human, PhD ’80 is “psychiatrist.”  Dr. Hyman is a business and organizational consultant specializing in conflict management and runs her own firm — Beverly Hyman Ph.D., Management Consultant (http://www.beverlyhyman.com/)

    originally published at New York University Alumni Profile

    Everything Mom: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

    January 13th, 2010

    A review of the ten-step reality test for your marriage.

    Seems like every marriage, no matter how good it seems, no matter what stage of life you’re in, goes through a period of “did I make the right decision?” “Do I want to stay with him?” and other questions. I know I have.

    Turns out, we’re not alone. Married people all over have this same thought; it was so common in fact, that Dr. Lawrence Birnbach and Dr. Beverly Hyman – he a psychoanalyst, she a conflict resolution specialist, now married to each other – have written a book called “How To Know If It’s Time To Go, A 10-Step Reality Test for Your Marriage”.

    The book is well written overall, and asks some of the hard questions that people unsure of their place or footing in their marriage need to face.

    With questions in every chapter, and 100-question ‘Marriage Test’ at the end of the book, this is a brutally honest, yet surprisingly gentle, look at what makes a marriage work.

    With a full 50-plus pages dealing entirely with the myths about divorce, this book aims to open your eyes about the realities and eventualities about divorce. With ratings from “completely and absolutely false” through to “partially true”, the book debunks ten of the most common myths about divorce.

    The one that stuck out to me the most was number one: “We’re just going through a rough patch. If I hang in there, things will get better.” I know I’ve said that, have you?

    I never know if my rough patch is just that, or if it’s a sign to just go. The doctors tell us that sometimes things do get better (and I’m sure many of you have brought your marriage back from what you considered a brink), some things are time-related and well, some things you have no control over. They’re right, but that doesn’t stop the thoughts running around my, or your, mind. When it feels like you’re in the middle of a rough patch, it’s hard to know where to turn.

    One of the first things this book does deal with well is the ‘Marriage Bill of Rights’. They spend a lot of time talking about the things we should do. The Bill of Rights provides us with:

    1. the right to expect loyalty,

    2. expect protection

    3. expect affection

    4. expect your mate to be your partner

    5. expect your mate to be your caregiver

    6. expect your mate to be supportive

    7. expect companionship from your partner

    8. expect to live a life that affords you some freedom

    9. expect to have honest communication

    10. expect to be treated with respect

    I’m not 100% sure this is the book for everyone who is wondering if their marriage is worth sticking with. It does have some questions that don’t necessarily pertain to anyone or everyone – this book has a pretty specific slant. They’re not trying to encourage divorce; they just want anyone who is wondering if their marriage might work or if it’s done, to look at the options. Don’t we all, when the chips are down, another looks in our window or we’ve dared to look at anyone outside of our world.

    Yeah, in the meantime, it’s harmless. Will it catch up with you? In 2010? Probably.

    About the Author

    Colleen Coplick is a jack of many trades. You’ll find her orchestrating the latest social media campaign and teaching ROI and the keys of measurement as she goes, as well as enjoying the travel scene. She is a writer, aspiring novelist, plot & character ninja. Want more? Email her at colleen@missmanifesto.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Her Main Site | Follow Her on Twitter

    originally published at Everything Mom (Blog) (Jan. 13, 2010)—Book review

    Dad of Diva’s: Review

    December 22nd, 2009

    I recently was asked to review an upcoming pubication of a book entitled: How to Know When It’s Time To Go: A 10 Step Reality Test For Your Marriage. This book is written by a husband and wife team and discusses many of the questions that many couples ask sometime in their marriage. Especially though this book examines couples that are having challenges in their marriage that may lead to eventual divorse if something does not change.

    Though the book is short (202 pages), each chapter is packed with down-to-earth examples and scenarios that as a reader you can relate with. Also, the chapters all conclude with questions that you, or you and your spouse can answer to try and see if you are in a situation that you must escape from or if there are things that you both can change to work on salvaging your relationship.

    As a person that is in a strong relationship, I found that the questions and guiding principles of the book are things that even J-Mom and I can grow and learn from.

    As I was reading the book itself, I found myself questioning a few things so I reached out to the author with a couple of questions:

    2) In reading your book I find that many of the questions that you ask can be utilized within healthy relationships as well as those that may be struggling, what are your thoughts on having couples in healthy relationships using this book as a preventative measure?

      Yes, we agree entirely that How to Know If It’s Time to Go is a very useful book for couples who are in a healthy marriage to keep their marriage on track.
      Happily married people too often are afraid to rock the boat when something is troubling one of them; they make the mistake of keeping it to themselves. Every relationship has its disappointments, frustrations or disagreements. It’s a bad idea to paper over these; they tend to get bigger rather than go away. To keep a good marriage on track we encourage couples to take our Marriage Test and see how closely their scores agree or don’t, and where they each see areas where they haven’t come to a resolution they both find workable.
      Too often marriages bog down in all the day to day responsibilities, without much of the fun and romance that got you two together in the first place. We think couples should read our Marriage Bill of Rights to remember what rights a marriage promises to each of you along with all those responsibilities, and to remind one another to provide the good things that those rights promise, like affection, partnership and support, and that each of you needs and deserves from the other.
      Sad to say that many people, especially men, relate how shocked they were when their spouses said they wanted to separate or divorce. Many of these people tell us they thought they were in a happy marriage. No one should be shocked to find out their mate is not happy. The book can help you get into the conversations that you need to have to keep an open dialogue about the best and worst aspects of your relationship, and how to work on it.

    2) What are the top 5 reasons that you have found that people stay in relationships when they should go.

      Our interviews with both married and divorced people surfaced the same fears over and over about separating and divorcing. We discuss each of these in detail in our chapter on myths about separation and divorce. Many of these myths are widely held in our society and are popularized in the media. It’s important to read the statistics that help you see that these are myths and don’t reflect the reality for the vast number of people who separate or divorce.
      • Self Doubt: Am I just being unrealistic about my expectations for marriage? Maybe my marriage isn’t so different from anyone else’s. Maybe it isn’t that bad. How can I know?
      • Impact on Kids: Will my kids’ school performance and behavior get worse? Will they grow up unable to trust, or to marry? Will I lose touch with them? Will they judge me harshly?
      • Impact on Finances: Will I be plunged into poverty? Will all of us be unable to live anything like the lifestyle that we have been used to until now?
      • Loneliness or Same Mistake: Will I be alone forever? Will I wind up in another relationship with someone even worse than the one I am in now?
      • Rejection: Will my family, my friends, my community and/or my religious group reject me?

    3) What were the main reasons you wished to write this book?

      We started out doing personal research to find out the impact of our own divorces on our two children; along the way we realized we were writing a book about marriage and divorce.
      Shortly after we started dating we confessed to one another our own fears, especially about the impact of each of our divorces on our children. Each one of us has a daughter from a previous marriage. One of our daughters was quite young, about 8, the other was in college.
      We worried about all the things other people worry about: will our daughters judge us for having divorced; will they never want to marry themselves; will they become depressed and will it affect their school performance, relationships with friends, use of drugs or alcohol, or lead to promiscuity?

    So we started doing some research. We were very surprised to put it mildly. The research studies, and there are many of them with thousands of kids that have lasted over thirty or more years, didn’t support our fears. Divorce wasn’t the thing that hurt kids, conflict in their home lives was the key to all those concerns, and the quality of their relationship with their parents. We wanted to tell this story to everyone.

    4) What advice do you have for those readers in healthy relationships to make sure that things remain healthy?

    There are five things we have found keep a relationship healthy.

      • Remember what attracted you to spending time together. Both of you need to keep alive what attracted you in the first place. Make sure to make room in your relationship for whatever made you enjoy one another—especially companionship, physical closeness and romance. If you loved to go to movies together and talk about them afterward, if you loved cooking and eating meals together, if you loved bike riding together, if you loved the jokes you shared, don’t leave these things behind.
      • Don’t bury problems, talk about them and keep trying to solve them. If you don’t argue openly about the things that bother each of you, that silence can be just as damaging as excessive open arguing.  Remember that a marriage is always a work in progress. People evolve, problems come up, circumstances change and all of these things need to be talked about with tenderness and respect and the idea that each of you has a stake in finding a successful resolution. Keep talking, don’t let things go underground.
      • Say “yes” instead of “no” at least 75% of the time. Everyone keeps an inner scorecard whether they want to acknowledge it or not. People develop a sense of whether the relationship is fair to them. Each person benefits when there’s a spirit of cooperation in almost all areas of your marriage. Research has shown that saying “yes” 3 out of 4 times to your partner’s requests makes for a happy marriage. That includes saying “yes” to your partner’s romantic overtures.
      • Don’t neglect your kids, but don’t let them totally dominate your lives. Couples have to guard against being too child-centered as well as not sufficiently responding to their children’s needs. Too many couples take parenting so seriously that it becomes almost the entire focus of the marriage. Having kids together was only reason you got married.
      • Keep working on yourself and your marriage; keep growing. One of the most common reasons people give for wanting to end marriages is boredom. They feel their partner stopped growing long ago and eventually that isn’t good enough to keep them in the marriage any longer.
      All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by the company. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Please refer to this site’s Terms of Use for more information. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.

    originally published at Dad of Diva’s (Blog) (Dec. 22nd, 2009)