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Relationship Issues


Do these relationship issues sound familiar?
  • Do you fight and make up regularly?

  • Does your partner put you down, ridicule you or criticize you? Or are you doing that to your partner?

  • Are you “hanging in” because you can see the potential — only the potential never gets realized?

  • Is your partner never home or “tuned out” when he or she is at home? Are you?

  • Are you relieved when your partner isn’t around?

  • Are you uneasy when your partner is away?

  • Does your partner hit you or threaten to hit you? Are you doing it to him or her?

  • Is your sex life gone?

  • Is your or your partner’s use of drugs or alcohol creating problems?

  • Is living alone or independently unthinkable?

While most marital partners marry in love with every intention to honor the vows, many issues develop over time, which can lead to divorce or a marriage devoid of feeling, love, and communication. Almost 50% of all marriages end in divorce, despite the pressure to stay together, particularly for the supposed benefit of the children. Family and the divorce process itself force people to try to make it work. Many marriages do not end in legal divorce, but many end in emotional divorce. Marriage is clearly a challenge and so many negative possibilities need to be understood, anticipated and dealt with.


What can go wrong? Here’s a partial list.
  • Low self-esteem and lack of confidence can cause a basis for a relationship, where the other person’s role is to boost the other. People tire of that role and married individuals eventually may reach outside the marriage for confirmation of their attractiveness, humor, worth, etc.


  • Rigid role definition, providing no latitude, no capacity for change or growth. Communication and intimacy may decline as one individual is forced to play a role different from what they are. The housewife with the MBA who wants to reenter the job market after the children start school is just one variation on a large theme.


  • Attempting to be perfect according to someone else’s definition, when the role is dissonant from the true person.


  • The effect of having children can have by making the husband drop from “Number One” to “Number Two.” At the same time, the mother has gained weight, has had her body change, and has seen her husband fail to appreciate the difficulty and all-consuming nature of child rearing. The lower the sense of self-worth of the male, the more burden children will impose on a tenuous relationship.


  • The traditional role definition for women, where they move from one dependency to another can be a problem for a male, who may be weak, and not comfortable with his presumed role. Many women from traditional backgrounds define themselves in terms of a male, first the father, then boyfriend, husband, and later sons. She may have been dependent on her looks and performing the typical female behavior. Being needy and unsure of her independent worth, she may become jealous, which can be recurring and increasingly strident theme, even in the absence of any disloyal behavior on the spouse’s part.


  • In today’s society, these role definitions can be reversed, where the woman is the big money earner, and the husband plays the role of sex object. A women, in this case, may be drawn to the power of her boss, business associates, etc. and may lose interest in the husband, who simply is not career oriented.


  • Poor communication before, during, and, unfortunately, after a marriage. People have a tendency to ignore or finesse critical discussions about religion, having children, education of the children, sexual needs, and other incompatibilities. Love does not conquer all, and its intensity will subside in the best of circumstances.


  • The displacement of marital conflict where differences and conflicting desires/goals get refocused on another family member, often the oldest child. The child has no escape and is trapped in an irrational situation. Often the child may be accused of the undesirable behavior the spouse is committing. “You’re lazy, like your father.” “You’re like your mother, you wouldn’t know the truth if it hit you across the face with a two by four.” The list is long of these displacements. Unfortunately, they can become self-fulfilling, as the child plays the role unfairly imposed upon them by quarreling parents.


  • Displaced anger, or you always hurt the one you love. Personal problems at work, or dissatisfaction with roles, can cause blame and anger to be directed at an innocent spouse. While self-actualizers will focus on reality and not blame others, most of us do not fall into this category.


  • In their anxiousness to preserve the reinforcement the relationship provides, personality aspects and background circumstances (background, education, interest, family members, religion, race, etc.) that may subsequently become critically important are ignored. Also, what may be viewed as appealing, albeit quirky, behavior may evolve to just quirky and annoying.


  • Conflict resolution, if both parties lack self-esteem, can turn into a contest of externalizing blame and finger pointing, with a resulting growing distrust and lack of respect for the other person.


  • Men have a tendency to communicate with facts, reason, and rational fact recitation, while women communicate on a more emotional level. Talking without hearing is a common problem. When a point is not being heard, voices rise, anger results, and communications hit a brick wall.


  • People inherit abusive and aggressive modes of communication and replicate them to the detriment of their marital relationships. People will use patience and forbearance to win a partner, but that will quickly degenerate over time.


  • Attempts to change a person well beyond their capacity. Constantly harping on someone’s weight, lack of knowledge in an area, lack of being romantic, lack of interest in sports, etc. fits this category. It is critical to marry a person as they are, not what you think you can convert them to. Conversion, reformation, etc. is a major putdown, and clearly indicates dissatisfaction with the person that is.


Contact details

On-line service only

San Francisco, CA 


I have morning, day and evening hours available -- Tuesday through Saturday.

Fees vary from therapist to therapist. My standard fee is $180 - $220 per counseling hour. I also can work on a sliding scale on off-peak hours. I offer a free 30 minute consultation by phone or in-person. 

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