A character in the novel Today Will be Different, by Maria Semple, said about psychotherapy: Change is the goal. Insight is the booby prize. It reminded me of what I tell people when they ask, “Why isn’t my wife romantic?” or “Why is my sister always mean to me?” or “Why can’t my husband stop demanding that the house be spotless?” Will answering these questions make … Continue reading Insight is the Booby Prize
I hear some lawyers say, “I don’t like other lawyers. They’re money hungry and unscrupulous.” I hear some police officers say, “I can’t stand other cops. The job is the center of their life and identity. Not me.” I hear some psychologists say, “Psychologists are crazy. I stay away from them in my personal life.” I hear some teachers say, “Keep me away from other teachers. They’re bossy … Continue reading Bias Against Our Own Kind
Think of a relationship as dancing cheek-to-cheek with your partner. You’re both doing the same steps, moving in sync. Then mid-dance, one of you changes the steps completely. At first, the other person resists. They’re confused. They stumble. They struggle to get you back to the old dance routine. At this point, one of two things happens: Your partner stops dancing with you, OR They catch … Continue reading How to Change Someone Else, Pt. 2
It’s more fun, and a lot easier, to change someone else than to change ourselves. But is it possible? It makes sense that we want to transform someone into the person we thought they used to be, many years ago, such as a spouse who was once loving and attentive. They can certainly be that person again, can’t they? Have you ever tried rewinding your own history clock and … Continue reading How to Change Someone Else, Pt. 1
When my older son told me he was moving off Long Island, where we live, to a city in upstate New York, about 225 miles away, I felt a pang in my heart. He was going to a better job, and a place where money bought a lot more than it does here at home. But he was my dining-out and beach-walk buddy. I was … Continue reading Parenthood: A Loop of Hellos and Goodbyes
I once knew a woman, I’ll call her Michelle, whose daughter died at the tender age of 25. That was 8 years ago, and Michelle still blames herself for the death. “Ellie was an alcoholic,” Michelle says. “But she was so much more. She was kind and funny. She entertained kids at the local hospital with her impersonations of cartoon characters and her homemade puppets. She was a girl … Continue reading Self Blame is Magical Thinking
I adored my mother’s father. Grandpa was poor, money-wise, but rich with his gifts. They weren’t board games, dolls, or pretty dresses, which I had plenty of. His gifts cost almost nothing. A walnut in a shell became a ball to toss across a room and a missile to knock down a pyramid of playing cards. Grandpa taught me to play cat’s cradle with the string … Continue reading Gifts from Grandpa
If a person has a brief affair in a relationship and the affair ends, should the betraying spouse keep the secret? After all, it seems that telling this secret would needlessly hurt the spouse who was betrayed and only serve to alleviate the guilt of the spouse who cheated. Right? I once met a man, I’ll call him Peter, who had a wife, 2 children, … Continue reading Secrets – Keep them or Reveal them?