Archive for the ‘11. Marriage/Relationsips/Sex’ Category


What do movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, Senator Al Frankin, Congressman John Conners, and President Donald J. Trump, all have in common?  All have been accused of sexual harrassment!  From hearing victims’ sexual harassment stories, I believe it’s very important to first clearly define exactly what sexual harassment is.  Having done EEO counseling collateral-duty (part-time)  while working full-time as a program analyst with the U.S. Department of the Interior, I’m familiar with the clear definition of sexual harassment by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, at 29 C.F.R. 1604.11, as follows:

Sexual Harassment is conduct in the form of “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature” when such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostlite, or offensive working environment.” 

Except for its legal implications, it’s not important to someone who feels harassed, frightened, or intimidated, whether s/he has been technically and legally sexually harassed. The following very relevant quote is taken from an article by Mortimer Zuckerman that appeared in the May 23, 1994, issue of US News and World Report:

“That sexual harassment exists is unquestionable, but that many acts of sexual misconduct are overdramatized is also true.  To avoid trivializing those who suffer the real thing, we must reject the idea that any unwanted advance or remark constitutes harassment.  There is a difference between an unwanted encounter, which may upset a woman, and pressure applied — such as threatening a woman’s job security — or ongoing demeaning treatment.  Those wrongly accused have their own ordreal in trying to prove a negative.”

When I was working for a U.S. Department of the Interior bureau in Denver in 1991, I also belonged to a public speaking club where someone accused me of “inappropriate behavior.”  Moreover, even before hearing my rebuttal, the club voted me out, whereupon I hired a lawyer to help me get my “due process” rights that were listed in the club’s charter.  In working through the details of the case, the accuser could not cite any examples of what I did that was inappropriate.  I sought advice from many people on how to handle the incident.  The psychiatrist I consulted advised that, since the woman had recently went through a horrible divorce,  she was taking out her anger on me.  I also read many books on communication problems, including the excellent, You Just Don’t Understand, by Deborah Tannen.


Both men and women need to learn how to deal with sexual harassment.  Men need to understand that women can destroy their lives and therefore they need to be more considerate of women’s feelings and perceptions and educate themselves on how and when many women become uncomfortable with some of their actions, such as using foul language, coming on too strong, and being too aggressive.  One of man’s basic evolutionary roles was to protect women; it’s wrong to harass them.

Women need to educate themselves on sexual harassment and how to handle various situations in a manner that eliminates the problem with a minimum of anguish.

Finally, for those trying to judge what the truth is in a potential sexual harassment encounter, remember to not completely believe anyone regardless of his/her gender; just follow the evidence.



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In April of 1968 I married a very beautiful woman with a delightful personality that I had fallen deeply in love with.  In September of 1969 she divorced me.  In August 1978 I married a good woman who really needed my help and I wanted to help her.  In 2005 she divorced me.  Two marriages, two divorces.  What happened?  What can be learned from these tragedies that I can share with others to help them avoid the same types of mistakes that I made?

I’ll give my analysis first, since it is the most important part of this article, and then I’ll give my account of the details of what happened that led to my div0rce (for anyone interested in how two people deeply in love ended up divorced).


I made many mistakes in my first marriage and made a disaster of handling the breakup and divorce.  My first mistake was not being engaged much longer than our 5-month engagement.  This was important in order for us both to learn how to amicably resolve our differences…which renowned marriage researcher and author, John Gottman, PhD, says is the most important skill to have in order to have a happy marriage and avoid divorce.  Dr. Gottman also says that a couple should have at least five positive (supportive, friendly) interactions for every negative (critical) in order to maintain a healthy relationship.  You can easily check the health of your relationship by applying the two aforementioned factors that Dr. Gottman’s research discovered.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that my first wife had IED (Intermittent Explosive Disorder) where she became hysterical; therefore I should have taken anything she said or did while in this state with a grain of salt, and not automatically believe that she wanted to get rid of me because I might be permanently handicapped (from a large brain tumor I had removed 5 weeks before she threw me out) and therefore not be able to make her a good living (which is what I thought, though not what she directly said).  Another mistake I made in my first marraige was to inform family that we were having problems.  Family and friends are supportive and usually take your side, which although they make you feel good, family cannot be objective in analyzing and resolving marital problems…that’s the job of marraige counselors. We should have gone to a marraige counselor to help us resolve our conflicts.  My wife went to a divorce lawyer, instead, which all but guaranteed that we woud get divorced.  Although I instructed my lawyer that I did not want a divorce, he did nothing to prevent it.  In addition, my mom became overprotective and did not want me with someone who tried to kill me twice.  Mothers are funny that way…disliking people trying to kill their children.

Finally, and most importantly, as very difficult as it was for me, I should have gone to my divorce hearing.  Even if I simply showed up, limping, shaven-headed, one-eye-closed, etc., any judge would have been very skeptical believing that a spouse had legitimate grounds for divorce.  I needed to be there to tell what happened, and fight to keep her, perhaps through court-ordered marriage counseling.

Because we really loved each other, I believe that, were it not for my brain tumor, my wife and I would have worked out our problems and lived happily together and raised a family.  She was highly motivated to be a good wife and mother, and the emotional irritation from my brain tumor eventually went away.

My second marraige was completely different and I believe I bent over backwards to make my wife happy, including moving to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.  In addition, my wife desperately needed my Federal medical  insurance because of her psychological conditions. There’s not too much to be learned from my second marriage and divorce, except that in both of my marriages I should have done everything to prevent them since the hurt can (and did) last a lifetime.


It was a bath that precipitated my first wife to give me an ultimatum to either not bathe then or get out, and then follow it up with actually pushing out a severely-disabled man only 5 weeks after he had a large brain tumor removed.  In addition, over the next six months my wife never even acknowleged, let alone apologized, to me or shed a tear (that I could see) over our breakup.  This conflict should have taken five minutes to resolve.  It was never resolved.  A marriage is faced with many problems over a lifetime which need amicable resolutions.  Perhaps I was lucky to have been tossed out of our apartment early-on?  But the consequences of divorce on all parties can be so painful that it should be used only as a last resort, after really trying together, face-to-face, to resolve the issues that brought you to the brink. We never seriously even tried because we hurt each other so badly and were waiting for an apology from each other.  When I finally realized what needed to be done, my attempt was thwarted.

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If you’re interested, here’s my account of the significant details of our breakup (if I also knew my wife’s account, we  probably would have avoided divorce):


My first-wife-to-be and I lived a few blocks from each other in our parents’ homes.  Since we both worked in the same office, I drove her to work every day and got to know her.  We then dated for a relatively short period, got engaged, and married after only five months of engagement.

We had a wonderful honeymoon in Miami Beach but had a rough time learning to live together. We got off to a bad start when she cooked hamburgers that she made with a teaspoon of black pepper mixed in.  She said that her mother gave her the recipe which made me paranoid about her mom wanting to break us up.  I was too critical and she never learned how to discuss our differences, negotiate and compromise.  While growing up, her parents never fought in front of her so she thought that couples that loved each other did not fight.  In addition, she always got her own way to the extent that, when she was a child, she demanded and got the master bedroom as her bedroom in her parents home.

Our fights would sometimes end with her phoning her parents to come and pick her up.  I eventually learned that the only way I could end a fight was to make her cry…and the only way to make her cry was to talk critically about her mother.  On two of the occasions when became hysterical she completely lost control and attempted to stab me with steak knives which she tried to plant into my chest.  I consequently decided that she was not emotionally ready to raise children though she wanted to have four ASAP.  In order to prepare her to be the mother of our children, I thought that she needed to learn how to work out with me our differences and to compromise, when appropriate.  I had to make her hate to argue and fight and therefore I unwisely decided to see to it that she lost every argument from then on, though I should have instead insisted that we talk with a good marriage counselor.  Unlike the first two months of our marriage, I had to win at all cost…no more understanding and kindness and pleas to stop fighting.  This strategy began to work just about at the same time that I began getting irritated from my brain tumor.  I was no longer in control…my brain tumor was.

My brain surgery took 5 hours and I was in the hospital for three weeks.  When I was allowed to go home, I could barely walk, the left side of my face was paralyzed and numb, my left eye lid was sutured shut to protect my left eye, I was deaf in my left ear, my equilibrium was bad to the extent that I appeared drunk when walking.  My wife was happy to have me home and cooked wonderful meals for me.  I remained psychologiclly irritated, however.

My brain tumor agitated me, aggravated my behavior, and made me hyper-sensitive to the point where I was difficult to live with.  In addition, my wife became enraged at something I said and tried to stab me again.  She was scared and told me, “somebody said you need a nurse, not a wife,” and “somebody said you’re going to be fat and bald.”  When my mom told her to “have patience with him, he’ll make you a good living,” she replied “I don’t have patience.” One Saturday, five weeks after my brain surgery, my wife wanted us to go out shopping.  I told her that I needed to get a bath first…that it was one of the few joys I still had.  She replied, “if you get a bath you can get out.”  I retorted, “I’m getting a bath so I guess I’ll have to get out.”  I took my bath and sang made-up lyrics that were insulting to her.

She told me to call a taxi to take me to my parents home.  I dialed the phone and made believe I was calling a taxi…but I did not.  She made me call again once she  realized I did’nt actually call the first time.  The taxi came but I refused to leave but was too weak to prevent her from pushing me out the front door.  I went to my parents home since I had no money nor any other place to go.


The day after my wife threw me out I returned to our apartment for a week, which I told her I would do, with the hope that she would still be there or come by to discuss our breakup.  She never showed up.  It only took about six months from our breakup to our divorce (under Pennsylvania’s brief 6-month “cooling-off” period in its divorce laws).  After the first few weeks apart I arranged to see her, using the excuse that I needed to pick up some of my things.  I thought we would talk over coffee and each apologize to the other for the terrible things we said while angry.  When I arrived at the apartment she was wearing a see-through blouse over a see-through body stocking under that.  In addition, she told me that a (male) friend would be over soon.  Moreover, every chair and sofa had piles of clothes on them so there was no place to sit and talk.  After I was there about 10 minutes her doorbell rang, so I left.  While I believe now that her intent was to make me jealous, I became convinced at that time that she was fooling around with another man only a few weeks after she threw me out of our apartment.  I was not thinking rationally.

Since she had her home phone number changed, I could’nt call her at the apartment.  So I called her every afternoon at her workplace.  After doing that for about a month, her boss answered her work phone one day and told me that she was always upset after speaking with me.  Consequently, I stopped calling her.

When I received the legal notice of divorce, I immediately tore it up.  My lawyer never contacted me to discuss it or even inform me of the divorce hearing.

Meanwhile, my physical condition (one eye closed, 1/2 my face paralyzed and numb, equilibrium injured to the extent that I couldn’t walk straight), plus my wife throwing me out and starting divorce proceedings, no money, made me paranoid and I heard voices every waking hour shouting at me.

After much thought I concluded that my wife did not think I loved her and wanted her so I decided to make it very clear.  Consequently, I called her at work and begged her to take me back.  While on the phone my mom returned from work and overheard my conversation.  After the call ended my mom lit into me for not standing up to my wife and being a wimp.  The next day I called my wife again at work to get her answer.  Unfortunately, my mom returned home from work as soon as I got on the phone, so I talked in a manner to please my mom so when my wife said that she thought I wanted to get back together.  I replied, “you thought wrong.”  That was the end of my marriage.


I did not attend my divorce hearing for four reasons: 1) because I thought that my wife had become romantically involved with a co-worker and would cheat on me with him had I been even able to legally prevent the divorce, and 2) I was overwhelmed with grief over my wife, couldn’t handle anymore, and just wanted to avoid it all and have it go away, and 3) the upcoming divorce made me paranoid to the extent that I heard voices and thought the entire proceedings were evil and I therefore wanted nothing to do with them, and 4) I thought it was useless…whatever I tried was stymied or stopped and ended up making me feel frustrated.  Moreover, I didn’t even know exactly where the divorce hearing was being held and my lawyer didn’t even notify me (though I did receive a notice…which I had immediately tore up).  For days prior to my divorce hearing I repeatedly said to myself under my breath again and again, “It’s stupid to want someone that doesn’t want me.”  This was a huge mistake, not even trying.  I phoned my wife one week after our divorce was final, and was surprised that she had a new husband and he answered the phone but let me talk with my x-wife.

I subsequently tried returning to U. of Penn to finish my Masters but my only thoughts were of my x-wife so I temporarily dropped out and needed and received  psychotherapy for awhile.  I had “Command Auditory Hallucinations” for months where 24/7 I heard voices shouting at me, “murder my son.” The voices eeventially disappeared and I subsequently remarried 9 years later because I found someone who needed my help, moved to Washington, DC (and worked there for 12 years) and then to Colorado (for 27 years).  After I retired I moved back to the western suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to be near my family but I still thought of my first wife every day and concluded that I had an ethical obligation to apologize to her, even though it had been 46 years since our divorce.  Consequently, I sent her a letter of apology for not treating her well, and also stated in it that I thought my brain tumor was at least partially responsible for my erratic behavior while we were married.




One of the most important decisions most people will ever make is who to marry, if anyone.   A good marriage can be very fulfilling, so if you marry,  you would want it to succeed, make both of you happy, and last a lifetime.   How do you do that?  Some marriage counselors have much  more than their share of broken marriages, and I have had two marriages and two divorces, but it’s true that you learn a lot more from your failures than from your successes, so I’m presenting my analysis.  But first let’s look at a few statistics on marriage:

o 50% of married couples will eventually divorce

o 60% of second marriages fail

o 31% of people in a marriage have had an affair

o 47% of people in a marriage are not sure they would marry the same person again

In an interview with Longevity magazine years ago, actress Zsa Zsa Gabor was asked, “do you think you’ll ever meet the right man?”  She replied, “I was very lucky because I find eight times the right man.”  Of course we want our first  and only spouse to be the right man or woman.  My experience with marriage/relationships comes from my two marriages, two divorces, living with a girlfriend for three years and reading everything I could get on marriage and relationships so that I wouldn’t ever have another divorce.  Here’s my advice for selecting a lifelong mate:

1. It’s very helpful if you and your intended are best friends before you marry, to the extent that you both can be yourselves and be able to joke around with each other and have fun in each other’s company.

2. Being honest with each other is very helpful.  Making “I” statements can make this possible, so you might say, “I think that…” rather than imperial statements such as, “that’s bad” or “that’s good.”  Be diplomatic in your honest communications with each other, and not lie…but do not be brutally frank or unkind.   Why is being honest important?  Because it fosters trust and intimacy.  Look for honesty in a potential mate.

3. Respect each other’s feelings about people, ideas, beliefs, attitudes, and interests.  Of course, the more of these you have in common, the better, but you really need to respect your significant other’s views even though they may be very different from yours.  Does your spouse-to-be respect your feelings?

4. Resolving differences amicably is something that John Gottman PhD, marriage researcher and counselor, advocates as one of the most important skills for maintaining a good marriage.  My first marriage lacked this and was the underlying culprit responsible for its failure.  To check this out you need to be going together long enough to have at least one good fight or big disagreement to see if you both can resolve it amicably.  This ability might be more important than all of the others.

5. Dr. Gottman: “a healthy balance between positive and negative feelings and actions toward each other…really separates contented couples from those in deep marital misery.”  Further, “if there is five times as much positive interaction as negative between couples, the marriage is likely to be stable over time.”  Dr. Gottman then specifies that negative interactions are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.  To use this in determining how well you and your significant other might get along as husband and wife, look at your positive and negative interactions…is there a healthy balance?  If not, modify your behavior so that it becomes healthy.

Not listed above is the question of romance and sex.  Of course these are very important…in fact, I heard a marriage counselor comment that, “if the sex is good, the marriage is usually good.”

Even if you do everything well, there’s still no guarantee that your marriage will succeed.  To illustrate, Ellen Kriedman states in her book, Light her Fire, “while dating, a man usually has no problem talking, because he has a goal in mind.  He wants her to find him desirable, so he’s charming, witty and pays a great deal of attention to what she’s saying.  He wants to discover what her needs are so that he can fulfill them.  As a result, he has a woman who finds him irresistible.  Once this happens and she’s his forever, he stops talking.  In his mind, there’s less need to talk and listen to her than there was in the beginning.”  And, of course, the female partner might equally change after marriage, but in a different way.

Finally, it’s certainly a lot easier, after discussing your concerns with each other, to stop dating someone whom you think you would be incompatible with, rather than marrying him or her and eventually getting divorced after a few years of marriage and two children.  It’s far better to be single a little longer rather than getting married quickly and being miserable because your prince or princess turned out to be a frog, con artist, spouse abuser, philanderer, alcoholic, drug addict, gambling addict, etc.  Whatever your problems, things can always get a whole lot worse.  If you love someone even though he or she has serious problems, it’s important to consider what your heart says, but your mind must make final decisions…and keep in mind that few spouses, partners and significant others are better companions and more loyal friends than homeless stray cats or dogs that might visit your home for food and water, so you might want to consider adopting a stray for companionship and take your time before choosing a spouse.



I’m writing this post because sex at its best can be the physical manifestation of love and is therefore important to a couple’s pleasure and the strengthening of their pair-bond.  In addition, great sex can overcome many hard feelings, resentments, and misunderstandings that inevitably arise in a relationship/marriage.  There’s nothing as wonderful as making love with someone you love.  As one ages and the body slows down and changes, making love usually becomes more difficult.

What makes me qualified to write on this subject?  I’ve read dozens of books, off and on, on sex, love, relationships, and marriage for 61 years, trying new things that I read about.  In addition, I have 54 years of experience with two marriages and a few girlfriends, and especially after having messed up my first marriage, have a keen desire to excel at making a woman feel loved.  Finally, about ten years ago I found a fascinating little red book that told me something intriguing than I previously had not read much about.  That book, How to Satisfy a Woman Every Time, by Naura Hayden, described in detail how to physically tease a woman to turn her on, and satisfy her.  With the combination of my decades of experience and reading, I consequently had the best sex I’ve ever had, although I was over 70 years-old…the one I loved felt thoroughly loved.


PREPARATION: If you’re not married and meet someone that you really like, get to know well and trust, and you both feel that you want to take your  relationship to the next level, alcohol will lessen inhibitions as you get started, so a glass or two of wine is a good way to begin (too much alcohol, however, lowers libido).  A safe and private location, romantic music, candles in a darkened room, and you’re on the way to setting the mood.  If you’re married or not but over about 45-50 years-old, you probably will need either 50 or 100 mg of Viagra, (or the appropriate dosage of Levitra or Cialis), the generic form of which (Sildenafil) men with Erectile Dysfunction (ED) may buy inexpensively…$100 for 50 20-mg tablets (regular price  of Viagra is about $50/one 100mg pill) from some Urologists’ offices or a mail-order pharmacy in North Carolina, Marley Drug ( 336-771-7672;  Viagra begins working in about an hour on a full stomach, 15 minutes on an empty stomach.  Women over 50 or 60 may need a lubricant to make intercourse possible (google published by the Sinclair Institute to purchase lubricants that are compatible with sex toys).  Lubrication should be applied, as needed, to the penis, vibrator, dildo, etc. during lovemaking.  If the woman is fertile, decide in advance the birth control you plan to use.  Coitus Interruptus, as well as the Rhythm Method are unreliable in preventing pregnancy.  If the woman is well past menopause (menopause is usually about age 52), of course there’s no need for birth control, though you still need to be concerned about the 30 Sexually-Transmitted- Diseases (STDs).  If you’re a man under about 40, you may need to use a condom to help dull the sensation and therefore help delay your orgasm (as well as prevent pregnancy).  A numbing cream spread on the penis will also help delay orgasm and therefore one can maintain an erection and lengthen the time that you’re pleasuring your partner.  Older men, because premature ejaculation usually is no longer a problem, should be able to maintain an erection, with Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis for as long as the woman wants to have coitus.

Testosterone is the hormone that stimultes sexual desire in both men and women, though women need much less of it.  As a man ages, however, some of his Testosterone is converted by his body into Estradiol, a form of Estrogen, which accounts for older men getting “man boobs.” Prescription Testosterone, in its many forms, can be very expensive.  A Compounding Pharmacy can make the cream form of it for about a tenth of the price.  In addition, there are over-the-counter supplements that stimulate the body to increase production of Testosterone.  The Life Extension Foundation ( sells “Super Miraforte” which really works and has the added benefit of suppressing the conversion of Testosterone into Estradiol.

GETTING STARTED: We looked at making prior arrangements, now let’s consider technique.  First, it’s important to know that it takes a woman much longer than a man to get physically and emotionally aroused.  Young men take about 60 seconds, young women a minimum of 20 minutes of foreplay (kissing, petting, massage, sweet words, etc.).  Older folks take longer.  Start with kissing and necking and perhaps massage.  Then proceed to the biggest foreplay turn-on that most women enjoy, cunnilingus.  There is no taste or smell around the clitoris.  Meanwhile, also gently fondle and kiss your loved one’s breasts, teasing her by circling just outside the areolas.


 WHEN IT’S TIME: You know it’s time when your loved one is turned on if she asks you to get on with it it.  Now it’s time to go back to that little red book by Naura Hayden on how to satisfy a woman that I mentioned in the introduction to this article…you need to physically tease her.  If you decided on starting with the “Missionary” position, put the head of your penis at the entrance to your loved one’s vagina and slightly insert it and stay there while kissing her.  When she tells you to get on with it, insert your penis slowly about a 1/4-1/2 inch, and then pull it mostly out.  Repeat again and again.  Then go in slowly about an inch and pull it mostly out.  Repeat again and again.  Then 1 1/2 inches, again and again. By this time your loved-one should be really encouraging you.  At some point, especially if she starts to orgasm, slowly go in all the way, but, as taken from another love book, do so in a pattern, so as to maximize her pleasure.  For example, on the first stroke, go in all of the way, then go in half the way on the second, third, and fourth strokes.  On the fifth, go in all of the way again.  Vary the pattern occasionally.  Continue until your loved one is satisfied.  If you’re under 25, you may not be able to last that long without ejaculating, which will consequently usually kill your erection. Not to worry, if she hasn’t had her orgasm yet, you can always satisfy her with cunnilingus.


KEEP THINGS INTERESTING: There are dozens of positions. each of which has its advantages and drawbacks.  For example, rear-entry requires a long penis (or a strap-on hollow penis).  Face-to face positions, like the “Cowgirl”, free up a man’s hands to fondle breasts and squeeze a woman’s “love handles,” her buttocks.  The book,  The Joy of Sex, depicts many sexual positionsIf you are more adventuresome,  Sinclair Institute sells a DVD that depicts couples demonstrating the basic positions.  It’s called “The Art of Sexual Positions.”

Lovemaking is so much fun that it’s hard to stop.  Let your loved one be your guide.  I prefer modified all-nighters: you make love, you go to sleep, you wake up (for whatever reason) and make love again.  You repeat all night until you’re both exhausted or it gets light out and the Viagra/Levitra/Cialis wears off.  Your girlfriend/wife knows that she’s been loved and you feel great having done the loving.  Of course, not every encounter will be a marathon…”quickies” have their place, as does showing your genuine affection by simply holding, hugging, squeezing and kissing.


Making love and being in love is one of the greatest feelings in the world.  Although this article was embarrassing for me to publish, my using only medical and scientific terms for body parts and techniques lessened my embarrassment….you can always Google or use a dictionary for the terms you may not be familiar with.  I believe that two people in love is so wonderful that I felt compelled to write and contribute whatever I could to help maintain and enhance that love despite how the ravages of old age interfere.  Finally, let me leave you with his thought taken from one of my love books: “men need to be needed, women need to be cherished.”  Cherish your loved-one and make her feel loved, both emotionally and physically.

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PS: check out my article on this blog (, entitled “Improving Communications in Relationships & Marriage” for gems of wisdom taken from a dozen love and relationship books.  That post aims to foster good communications by a couple, to not only heighten their love-life, but also to reduce the likelihood of eventual break-up/divorce.



I’ve been married twice and divorced twice.  The dissolution of my first marriage was tragic because we both loved each other dearly (though I didn’t tell my wife often) yet we were not able to get back together, despite our loving each other, and our marital breakup almost destroyed me and I’m sure was very hurtful to her.   My brain tumor was mostly responsible for my first divorce, but poor communications played a large role in both of my divorces.  It’s extremely painful for both parties to go through divorce to the extent that I believe that its possibility today in the U.S. (50%) is a legitimate reason why some may not want to ever marry.

But marriage is important, especially if you want to have children; therefore, you want to minimize the chances of getting divorced.  What do you do to accomplish this?  What I did was to research and study marriage and learn why people divorce, in my effort to avoid repeating those things that led to my divorces.


From numerous experts, but especially from the premier researcher on marriage, John Gottman, PhD, the most important skill to keeping a relationship or marriage healthy is for both partners to be able to amicably resolve differences…in other words, negotiate or fight without metaphorically killing each other.  An easy-to-do measure from Dr. Gottman to help you determine if your marital/relationship communications  are doing well is to frequently check to see if you’re having at least 5 positive interactions with your spouse/significant other for every negative one.  My first marriage tragically ended, despite our love for each other, mostly because my wife and I did not resolve our differences amicably.  Let’s look at what some of the other experts have to say….

In their book, The Intimate Enemy: How to Fight Fair in Love and Marriage, by George Bach and Peter Wyden, the authors ask if anyone ever heard from a significant other, “you never talk to me, ” or “you never listen to me!”

Because I’ve  made so many painful mistakes in my first marriage which resulted in it lasting only ten months, I became highly-motivated to not repeat the same mistakes.  Therefore my second wife and I learned to communicate with each other and become intimate friends and lovers by attending 5 pre-marital and 30 post-marital counseling sessions with 5 other married couples.  Achieving game-free spontaneity and the consequent well-being that resulted was well worth the effort. The caring needed in a successful relationship is defined by Masters and Johnson in their book, “The Pleasure Bond“, as “paying attention, being concerned, solicitous and protective.”  Fortunately, I learned how to express my caring with my second wife and my second marriage therefore lasted 25 years.

An important concept in men-women communications comes from John Gray, PhD in his book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.”  Dr. Gray states that communication styles between the sexes are so different that to truly understand each other it’s very helpful to think of each sex as coming from different planets…and a recognition of those differences goes a long way in improving relations…basically because people don’t judge and treat each other with the caution and respect they otherwise would unless they thought the other was an alien.

The differences between the genders that make communications difficult are enumerated in Deborah Tannen’s book, You just Don’t Understand.  Dr. Tannen refers to “Report-Talk” (men) and “Rapport-talk” (women). She states, “For most women, conversation is a way of establishing connections and negotiating relationships.  For most men, talk is primarily a means to preserve independence and is done by exhibiting knowledge and skill, and by holding center stage through verbal performance such as storytelling, joking or imparting information.

Psychologist and marriage counselor Barbara De Angelis continues this theme in a March-April 1992 “Special Report on Relationships” by stating that:

Women and men are from two different planets; we speak two different languages, it’s so essential to learn about their differences.  I know that men are solution-oriented in their conversation, so if I’m complaining about my day, I will add, “I don’t really need a solution, honey, I just want you to hold me.”  If I don’t, he may start giving me solutions, and I may get angry that he’s not being loving and attentive, and now we’re in a fight….”  Maggie Scarf, author of “Intimate Partners,” adds in that same article, that “when a woman brings up a problem, she wants to talk it over, to learn what it means.  A man hears a problem and wants to do something about it.  To most women, this is outrageous.  They feel that to do this (means) the discussion is over (and) is his way of saying, shut up.

The list of differences between men and women’s communication styles goes on and on.  Many of them are based on the fact that men and women have different psychological needs.  If each gender only understood those needs, both would be much happier.  From Diane Dunaway and John Kramer’s book, “Why Men don’t get Enough Sex and Women don’t get enough Love,” states that these different needs can be summed up by saying that “men need to be needed and women need to be cherished.”  In a 1985 article, columnist Ann Landers conducted a survey asking women if affection was more important than sex.  Seventy-two percent of the 100,000 respondents said that they would be content to “just be held close and to forget about the sex act.”  According to Dunaway and Kramer, “Men have sex in order to feel good, women have sex when they feel good.”  Male-Female communications and love, sex, and intimacy are all intricately related; you can’t talk about one without addressing the others.

In Ellen Kriedman’s book, Light Her Fire, Ms. Kriedman states that “while dating, a man usually has no problem talking, because he has a goal in mind.  He wants her to find his desirable , so he’s charmng, witty, and pays a great deal of attention to what she’s saying.   He wants to discover what her needs are so that he can fulfill them.  As a result, he has a women who finds hin irresistible.  Once this happens, and she’s his forever, he stops talking.  In his mind, there’s less need to talk and listen to her than there was in the beginning.”

The Hite Report on Male Sexuality by Shere Hite states that “most men said that, even with women friends or their wives and lovers, they feel some difficulty in talking deeply about their personal feelings — once again reflecting their early male training not to be too emotional.”

Further complicating communication between the sexes is the natural attraction that over 95% of the population has for the opposite sex.   Bernstein and Fast’s book, Sexual Chemistry, cites the nonverbal cues that men and women emit toward each other that demonstrate the sexual chemistry between them.  The book, More than Friends, Less than Lovers, argues that men and women can establish very gratifying relationships by becoming “intimate” without engaging in sexual relations.  This intimacy is a natural occurrence because today men and women work closely together.  But the guilt from illicit sex really messes up what otherwise could be a very good relationship.  In addition, 30 sexually-transmitted diseases make promiscuity a form of Russian Roulette. Desmond Morris, in his book, “Intimate Behavior,” gives a good explanation of the need for social intimacy.  Another book, Intimacy, discusses the need for intimacy.

Finally, while not explicitly contained in any books that I’ve read, but something that I found to be the most important factor in a successful relationship or marriage, is openness, honesty and forthrightness in dealing with each other.  I believe that one should not even tell white lies to a significant other when discussing important issues!  One can be diplomatic, subtle, and kind and not lie, while politely and respectfully giving your opinion.  You can’t work out your issues or problems together if you’re not truthful with each other about those issues and problems.  Many people use the excuse that they are simply being sensitive by telling a white lie, when in fact they may lack the courage to confront their significant other with what’s really bothering them.  I consider this to be a relationship/marriage-killer, no matter how noble the reasons for the deception.


There is an abundance of needless pain, suffering, frustration, and anxiety in relationships and marriage due to poor communications.  Marriage counselors can be very helpful but really good ones are rare and can be expensive.  Friends can be supportive but usually inadvertently give harmful advice that makes matters worse.  You can make your relationship/marriage better if you are motivated to do so and are willing to do your homework (read) on how to improve your communications and marriage; and then follow this up by setting some time aside every evening to calmly talk through your marital issues/problems.  I’ve just given you a taste of what’s out there by citing a number of books and authors.  Good luck in your search for a better relationship and/or marriage!




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