Press Releases About Morrie and Arleah

Posted for your Convenience and Use

Menu of Articles:
The (Un-candy-coated) Truth about Love: Five Surprising Valentine's Day Resolutions
Is Your Marriage Ripe for an Affair? Five Surprising Warning Signs
The Truth about Growing Apart: Six Surprising Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage
What's Love Got to Do with It?
Is Your Marriage a Symbiotic Blob?

 

The (Un-candy-coated) Truth about Love:
Five Surprising Valentine's Day Resolutions

This February 14th you should vow to strengthen your relationship, say Morrie and Arleah Shechtman. But their prescriptions may not be what you'd expect.

Boulder, CO (January 2005)—A dozen roses, a candlelit dinner, a sexy nightie, a pair of silk boxers. Such gifts may make you and your sweetie happy on February 14th. And there's certainly nothing wrong with that. But if you think they have anything to do with making your relationship stronger, you are blinded by the pink, frilly, candy-scented glow emanating from the greeting card industry. Indeed, according to Morrie and Arleah Shechtman, Valentine's Day symbolizes everything that's wrong with the way most of us view love, marriage, and relationships.

"Real love has very little to do with hearts and flowers and diamonds," say the Shechtmans, who wrote Love in the Present Tense: How to Have a High Intimacy, Low Maintenance Marriage (Bull Publishing Company, 2004, ISBN: 0-923521-81-X, $16.95). "We all know that, deep down, but Valentine's Day perpetuates the stereotype. And look at it in context. You give a gift, you get a gift, you gaze into your partner's eyes, and you spend the next 364 evenings of the year ignoring him or her while you watch TV or run the kids all over creation. Why would you work toward a healthy marriage one day out of the year and neglect it the rest of the time?"

Of course, what the Shechtmans think you should do may not be what you'd expect. Certainly, they do not recommend spending more "couple time" snuggling in front of the fire or taking up tennis so you can join your spouse at his hobby. Known for their counter-intuitive approach to keeping marriages strong, the Shechtmans are more likely to bluntly tell you to "get a life" and insist that your partner get one, too.

So what about Valentine's Day? Are they suggesting that you refuse to participate on principle? Well, no. (They like a good box of chocolates as much as the next person!) They simply advise that you use this holiday to set some goals and jump-start some healthier relationship habits. For example:

-Take ten minutes each day to pursue true intimacy. In Shechtman-speak, intimacy has little to do with sex or increasing the time you spend together. Indeed, they insist that the best marriages are low maintenance. It's not about quantity, but quality. That means communicating on a deep, meaningful, real level. When your partner goes on a rant about how much he hates his job, don't just patiently bear it and then respond with a litany of complaints about your own job. Instead, probe deeper to find out how he feels when his employer berates him, or more to the point, why he complains about his job every day, yet refuses to search for a new one. Then you'll be getting somewhere. Intimacy is not "What did you do today?" but rather "How did you feel about what you did today?" It's about emotional connection. It's about getting to the heart of the matter.

-Set a growth goal for yourself to be completed by next Valentine's Day. That's right, for yourself. In order to be a good partner, you have to be interesting. And to be interesting you have to grow and change. It's that simple. Couples who do nothing but sit in front of the TV night after night stagnate. They start to bore each other. Worse, they start to bore themselves. So vow that, a year from now, you will have found a job in an exciting new field . . . or have trained for and completed a marathon . . . or have painted a landscape and shown it in the local art gallery. Do something you've always wanted to do and you'll have new experiences and insights to bring to the relationship.

-Take your partner off the emotional welfare roll. Unconditional love is a sacred cow in our culture. Many marriage counselors will insist that you can't change your partner, nor should you try. That, say the Shechtmans, is bull. In fact, if you don't make demands on your partner, you don't really care. Your love is nothing more than a handout, an entitlement. More often than not, the unspoken rule is I won't challenge you if you won't challenge me. Make this the year that you finally take your partner off the emotional welfare roll—challenging him or her to get out of the recliner and lose that extra thirty pounds, or to stop gambling away your retirement money, or to finally quit complaining and find a new job. Sure, conflict may be introduced into your mutual toleration society, but that's not a bad thing. Sometimes it's necessary to bring deeper issues to the surface.

-Don't use "the laundry" as an excuse to avoid personal growth. Perhaps you feel that you are there to "support" your partner, to cater to his every desire. If your role in the relationship is to prepare extravagant meals, to keep the house spotless, to iron your partner's pants to a razor sharp crease, sorry. The Shechtmans say you don't get off that easily. Selfless devotion will not keep a marriage alive. Ironically, living through your partner instead of cultivating a life of your own is a form of abandonment. "The brutal truth is that a ‘Stepford wife' can easily be replaced by a housekeeper, a drycleaner, and a pizza delivery service," they say. "A true partner is irreplaceable."

-If you have kids, regularly hire a baby sitter. In many marriages, children "take over" once they arrive on the scene. It's all too easy to fall into the trap of sitting home with the kids night after night after night. After working all day, you're just too tired to make the effort to go out—and besides, you feel guilty about "abandoning" your child since he spends so much time at daycare. Drop the guilt, advise the Shechtmans. You and your partner need some "adult time" to reconnect emotionally. "Couples who make their kids the center of their lives often feel empty and at loose ends once the kids vacate the nest. This also puts a crushing burden on the kids, who end up feeling like failures," they say. "You need to cultivate intimacy with your partner throughout your marriage so that when the kids are grown and gone you'll still have something worthwhile to say to each other."

"If some of this advice surprises you, it's only because we're steeped in a ‘greeting card' culture that promotes a superficial view of what love really is," say the Shechtmans. "If they're honest, most couples who have moved beyond the honeymoon phase will admit that the syrupy sentimentality of Valentine's Day just seems, well, silly. They can't relate to it. Real love is, well, real. Sometimes it's even uncomfortable. But a life worth living isn't a comfortable life. It's an adventure. And that's what love should be, also."
● ● ●

About the Authors

Morrie Shechtman is a personal and corporate consultant with thirty years of experience. Morrie's academic background includes an M.S.W. with a clinical specialization in psychotherapy. He also has his A.C.S.W., the professional credential required for independent practice. He has taught at distinguished universities throughout the United States, has worked as a therapist and counselor, and now also runs a successful management consulting company, Fifth Wave Leadership.

Morrie's first book, Working Without a Net: How to Survive and Thrive in Today's High Risk Business World (1994), is widely used as a reference in corporate America. It is utilized as a textbook by a number of universities and is used by many government agencies in management development training.

Morrie's second book, Fifth Wave Leadership: The Internal Frontier (2003; Facts on Demand Press; ISBN: 1-889150-38-X; $19.95), is available at booksellers nationwide.

Arleah Shechtman is a psychotherapist with twenty-five years of experience counseling individuals in committed relationships. Arleah's academic background includes an associate's degree in business mid-management, an undergraduate degree in organizational development, and an M.S.W. with a clinical specialization. She also has her A.C.S.W., the professional credential required for independent practice. Her continuing education has focused on work with adolescents, work with small groups, and work with people experiencing grief and loss.

About the Book:

Love in the Present Tense: How to Have a High Intimacy, Low Maintenance Marriage (Bull Publishing Company, 2004, ISBN: 0-923521-81-X, $16.95) is available at better bookstores and major online booksellers. It is also available online at www.bullpub.com or by calling 800-676-2855

For more information, please visit www.MorrieandArleah.com.

For Immediate Release

For a review copy of the book
or an interview with the authors,
please contact Morrie Shechtman,
at (406) 752-9270 or info@fifthwaveleadership.com

 

Back to top

 

Is Your Marriage Ripe for an Affair?
Five Surprising Warning Signs

What drives people to infidelity may surprise you, says psychotherapist and author Morrie Shechtman. Selfless devotion is at the top of the list.

Boulder, CO (July 2004)—Quick, answer this question with the first thing that comes to mind: If you were worried that your spouse might stray, what would you do to prevent it? Maybe your knee-jerk response is: "I'd lose 20 pounds and upgrade my wardrobe." Or, "I would shower my spouse with expensive gifts." Or, "I would be extra attentive to my spouse so she would realize how good she has it." If your answer resembled any of those above, bad news: you're on the wrong track. According to psychotherapist Morrie Shechtman, you've bought into a common misconception about what causes affairs in the first place.

"Most people assume that people have affairs with someone more attractive, sexier, or richer than their spouse," says Shechtman, co-author along with his wife and business partner, Arleah, of Love in the Present Tense: How to Have a High Intimacy, Low Maintenance Marriage (Bull Publishing Company, 2004, ISBN: 0-923521-81-X, $16.95). "Despite the clichés—the mid-life crisis situation where the husband runs off with his much younger secretary, for instance—that's not what infidelity is about. People who cheat generally choose someone busier and more goal-oriented than their current partner. Someone more interesting, in other words."

That's right. The harsh truth is that when one spouse strays, it's probably because the other spouse has become, well . . . boring. So your focus on your appearance or your desperate attempts to please your partner completely miss the point.

Shechtman offers the following warning signs that your marriage may be ripe for an affair:

-You don't challenge each other. Unconditional acceptance is a myth. Healthy marriages require a mutual willingness to challenge and be challenged. An "Oh, I'll let the little woman do whatever makes her happy" attitude is condescending and harmful. If your partner lounges around in her bathrobe watching TV every day and you say nothing, then you're not invested in her well-being. Maybe she's depressed. Maybe she's sick. Maybe she's succumbing to laziness. Regardless, the message that she gets loud and clear from your silence is that you don't care. Not only do you have the right to make reasonable demands on your partner, you have the obligation to do so.

-You and your partner have become an amoeba. Getting married does not mean morphing into a single person with the same interests, hobbies, and friends. If you and your spouse do everything together, something's wrong. "If your partner is not allowed to have a life of her own, she will eventually become resentful," says Shechtman. "Similarly, if you're over-interested in her life, wanting to know or be involved in every detail, she will feel intruded upon and smothered. True intimacy requires two people having independent lives, not two people living through each other. The best marriages are low-maintenance marriages."

-One person selflessly lives for the other. Shechtman likes to tell the story of Bernard, a heart surgeon, and Stacy, the wife who selflessly devoted herself to him. She supported him through medical school. She stayed home and raised his kids. She prepared gourmet meals for him, often complete with heart-shaped ice cubes. And one day Bernard left Stacy for a disheveled photojournalist, two years his senior, who chastised him for stealing a cab she'd just hailed. Why? Because the photojournalist was interesting. "Selfless devotion is boring," says Shectman. "Bernard could have hired a housekeeper and a caterer. Gratitude for services rendered is no replacement for a stimulating partner. And by failing to cultivate a life of her own, Stacy deprived Bernard of that."

-Everything centers on your children. It's easy to succumb to the temptation to make your kids the center of the universe. Don't. For too many parents, running kids to and from soccer practice, dance lessons, and weekend parties becomes an insidious dance of intimacy avoidance. When you are reduced to being little more than an appointment secretary or a taxicab for your children, there's precious little time to develop an identity, a life, of your own. "Remember, children are temporary," says Shecthman. "One day they will grow up and leave and your marriage will still be there. More to the point, you'll still be there. So devote at least as much energy to your personal growth as you do to the social life of your kids."

-You don't have meaningful conversations with your spouse. Does the question, "How was your day?" unleash a monologue, a laundry list of activities, or a cacophony of complaints from you or your partner? If so, you're missing the point of communication. Quality communication is the heart of intimacy. (And you thought it was sex!) If you're confused about what constitutes a high-intimacy dialogue, here's a clue: it centers on feelings, not information. Instead of merely reporting to your partner what happened to you that day, tell her how it made you feel. Even if you have only ten minutes a day to talk to her, make those ten minutes count.

Interestingly, Shechtman says that most of these warning signs are variations on a common theme: abandonment. If you don't care enough to become an interesting partner, if you don't challenge your spouse to "be all he can be," if you fail to connect with your partner emotionally, you might as well be a disinterested roommate. Abandoning your spouse is the first step to checking out of the relationship.

So what can you do to affair-proof your marriage? The answer can be summed up in three little words, says Shechtman: get a life.

"Set goals and work toward them," he urges. "Immerse yourself in a career or activity that interests you. Don't just hop from one random activity to another. Have a vision of what you want your life to be and do something every day in pursuit of that vision. Take some risks. And challenge your spouse to do the same. Even if it causes some temporary discomfort, remember that a healthy marriage isn't about comfort zones and status quos. If you settle for comfort, your marriage will die."

"There's one other point I would make," he adds. "Create a rich, rewarding life for yourself and if your spouse did have an affair and ultimately leave you, you would be well-equipped to cope. Interesting people just have more resources, be they money, social connections, or potential new romantic partners. There are no guarantees in marriage. The only person you can count on to always be there is you. Being abandoned by a spouse is far preferable to abandoning yourself."
● ● ●

About the Authors:

Morrie Shechtman is a psychotherapist with 30 years of experience. He has taught at distinguished universities throughout the United States, has worked as a therapist and counselor, and now runs a successful management consulting company, Fifth Wave Leadership.

Morrie's first book, Working Without a Net: How to Survive and Thrive in Today's High Risk Business World (1994), is widely used as a reference in corporate America. It is utilized as a textbook by a number of universities and is used by many government agencies in management development training.

Morrie's second book, Fifth Wave Leadership: The Internal Frontier (2003; Facts on Demand Press; ISBN: 1-889150-38-X; $19.95) is available at booksellers nationwide.

Arleah Shechtman is a psychotherapist with 25 years of experience counseling individuals in committed relationships. Arleah's academic background includes an associate's degree in business management, an undergraduate degree in organizational development and an M.S.W. with a clinical specialization. She also has her ACSW, the professional credential required for private practice. Her continuing education has focused on work with adolescents, work with small groups, and work with people experiencing grief and loss.

About the Book:

Love in the Present Tense: How to Have a High Intimacy, Low Maintenance Marriage (Bull Publishing Company, 2004, ISBN: 0-923521-81-X, $16.95) is available at better bookstores and major online booksellers. It is also available online at www.bullpub.com or by calling 800-676-2855.

For Immediate Release

For a review copy of the book
or an interview with the authors,
please contact Morrie Shechtman,
at (406) 752-9270 or info@fifthwaveleadership.com

 

Back to top

 

The Truth about Growing Apart:
Six Surprising Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage

Worried that you and your spouse are growing in different directions? As long as you're both growing, that's okay. A new book by Morrie and Arleah Shechtman explains why.

Boulder, CO (June 2004)—You hear it all the time from veterans of divorce. We simply grew apart. It's enough to create a sense of fatalism about marriage itself. It may even inhibit your commitment to personal growth, as you reason, "If I don't pursue my Ph.D. or start the landscaping business I've always dreamed of, I can devote more time to my marriage." Growing apart is the number one reason marriages fail. But according to psychotherapist Morrie Shechtman, there are things you can do to decrease the likelihood of it happening to you and your partner—they just may not be the things you'd expect.

"What people usually mean when they say ‘we grew apart' is that one partner changed and the other didn't," explains Shechtman, co-author, with wife and business partner, Arleah, of Love in the Present Tense: How to Have a High Intimacy, Low Maintenance Marriage (Bull Publishing Company, 2004, ISBN: 0-923521-81-X, $16.95). "Quite simply, a good marriage fosters personal growth, and vice versa. If your partner doesn't grow, then he becomes boring to you. If you don't grow, then you become boring to yourself."

The Shechtmans insist that a fulfilling marriage, like a fulfilling life, is not about comfort zones and status quos. To avoid growing apart, you and your partner must grow together. Not necessarily in the same direction, mind you, but grow you must. They offer the following tips:

-Make sure personal growth is a shared value for you and your partner. As the Shechtmans emphasize throughout their book, good marriages are those in which partners have identical values. One of the most critical shared values is a commitment to growth. If you view yourself as a work in progress, and want to take risks and explore opportunities until you draw your last breath, and your partner wants to work the same job for 40 years and vegetate on the sofa every night, the marriage is probably doomed. Harsh, perhaps, but true. Commit to personal growth yourself, and challenge your partner to do the same.

-Dedicate yourself to your life's purpose. Give it your all-out effort, making full use of your talents and values. "Marriage is not your mission in life," write the Shechtmans. "Neither is raising children. In a great marriage, each partner is deeply committed and actively involved in some endeavor outside the marriage. When one partner is dedicated to an outside purpose while the other is dedicated only to supporting his spouse, then the supporting spouse ends up living through his partner in the same way unfulfilled parents live through their children. The one who is fully engaged with the outside world soon grows bored with her devoted supporter."

-Realize that selfless devotion is boring. Be interesting. In Love in the Present Tense, the authors tell a story about Bernard, a physician, and Stacy, his devoted, physically fit wife who kept the house immaculate, cooked gourmet meals, and pushed her children to achieve. One day, Bernard left Stacy for an unkempt and outspoken photojournalist two years his senior. Why? Because the photojournalist was interesting. The Shechtmans point out that Stacy is a victim, not of Bernard, but of the myth that selfless devotion keeps marriages alive. "As we see it, Stacy had deserted Bernard long before he announced that he was deserting her," write the authors. "In living through Bernard instead of cultivating a life of her own, she had failed to become a full person and thereby deprived him of a full partner."

-Assume personal responsibility for your own inner life. The Shechtmans believe that a person's emotional texture is, in large part, shaped by the way he or she felt in childhood. Your moods or feelings, known as your familiars, can be positive or negative. It's your negative familiars that stand in the way of fully enjoying adult life with the partner you have chosen. Once you realize this truth, you are free to explore your feelings, grieve the unhappiness of your childhood, and move on. But the important point is that this is your responsibility and yours alone. "In a great marriage, both partners assume full responsibility for their own inner lives," write the Shechtmans. "This means that you don't view your partner as the cause of what you are feeling. Nor do you view yourself as the cause of what he is feeling. You don't blame your partner for your own unhappiness, nor do you blame yourself for his."

-Challenge your partner. Unconditional acceptance is for infants. The Shechtmans assert that caring for your partner means holding him accountable for living up to his best vision of himself and continuing to grow. "Challenge is a vote of confidence, a sign of respect," they write. "Conversely, accepting people exactly as they are is a form of abandonment. The message you send when you unconditionally accept a partner's self-destructive or self-defeating behavior is that you believe she can't do better. Ultimately, this defeats the marriage itself. When you don't challenge your partner, you are essentially giving up on her."

-Don't confuse physical togetherness with intimacy. Many people fall into the trap of believing that they must spend "X" number of hours per week talking, sharing meals, or making love with their partner. But the Shechtmans insist that time spent together is no guarantee of intimacy. Real intimacy is based on the quality of communication. If all you have is 10 minutes a day, make those 10 minutes count by sharing with your partner what's happening in your inner life—and listening with full attention when your partner shares with you—rather than engaging in "information dumps." The truth is, if each partner is living a rich, full life, you probably won't have large amounts of time to spend basking in each other's company. You'll be too busy learning and growing as a person, which in turn will strengthen your marriage.

Finally, if you've read these tips (especially the first one) with the sinking feeling that your partner isn't committed to personal growth, take heart. Shechtman says that most people intuitively choose partners with a strong core values match. It's just that this truth is lost amidst the "shoulds," marriage myths, and psychological storms that are ruffling the surface of your relationship.

"It is unlikely that your partner is fulfilled working a dead-end job and watching three hours of sitcoms every night," he asserts. "More likely, he is allowing himself to be crippled by his familiars. Or perhaps he's just succumbing to laziness. Either way, rather than abandoning him, you can and should challenge him to confront his issues, grow as a person and shape a worthwhile life—not for you, but for himself. That's the kind of courage that helps marriages grow stronger rather than growing apart. That's what marriage is. That's what love is."
● ● ●

About the Authors:

Morrie Shechtman is a psychotherapist with 30 years of experience. He has taught at distinguished universities throughout the United States, has worked as a therapist and counselor, and now runs a successful management consulting company, Fifth Wave Leadership.

Morrie's first book, Working Without a Net: How to Survive and Thrive in Today's High Risk Business World (1994), is widely used as a reference in corporate America. It is utilized as a textbook by a number of universities and is used by many government agencies in management development training.

Morrie's second book, Fifth Wave Leadership: The Internal Frontier (2003; Facts on Demand Press; ISBN: 1-889150-38-X; $19.95) is available at booksellers nationwide.

Arleah Shechtman is a psychotherapist with 25 years of experience counseling individuals in committed relationships. Arleah's academic background includes an associate's degree in business mid-management, an undergraduate degree in organizational development and an M.S.W. with a clinical specialization. She also has her ACSW, the professional credential required for private practice. Her continuing education has focused on work with adolescents, work with small groups, and work with people experiencing grief and loss.

About the Book:

Love in the Present Tense: How to Have a High Intimacy, Low Maintenance Marriage (Bull Publishing Company, 2004, ISBN: 0-923521-81-X, $16.95) is available at better bookstores and major online booksellers. It is also available online at www.bullpub.com or by calling 800-676-2855.

For Immediate Release

For a review copy of the book
or an interview with the authors,
please contact Morrie Shechtman,
at (406) 752-9270 or info@fifthwaveleadership.com

 

Back to top

 

What's Love Got to Do with It?
According to a radical new book by marriage experts Morrie and Arleah Shechtman, couples should look to shared values—not love—to see them through the tough times.

Boulder, CO (January 2004)—Popular music, blockbuster movies and best-selling books have sold us a bill of goods. Think of all those classic love songs that, though recorded decades ago, still receive regular radio play: "All you need is love;" "Love will keep us together;" and "Love will see us through." Go to your local Cineplex and you're sure to find Julia Roberts or Meg Ryan falling in love, then out of love, and then back in love again. According to our culture, if two people love each other enough, they can work out anything. If your marriage is unhappy, then the first thing you need to do is love your partner more."Baloney!" says relationship expert Morrie Shechtman. "Love does not conquer all. Shared values do. I know that it sounds almost heretical in a world that thrives on perpetuating romantic stereotypes. But think about the high divorce rate, and the even higher rate of troubled relationships, and you'll have to admit that we're doing something wrong. Isn't that the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? It's time to restore some sanity to the institution of marriage—but, first, we have to let go of the fairy tale." Helping people have healthier relationships is one of the Shechtmans' passions. Morrie and his wife Arleah are psychotherapists who regularly hold intensive retreats for couples wanting to learn a whole new way of approaching their marriage. The Shechtmans share their philosophy in their groundbreaking new book, Love in the Present Tense: How to Have a High Intimacy, Low Maintenance Marriage (2004; Bull Press; ISBN: 0-923521-81-X). In a straightforward and no-nonsense fashion, the book explores the myths that keep divorce rates high and incidences of lasting, fulfilling relationships low. And they pinpoint eight core values that they say are "must haves" if you are going to sustain a successful marriage:

  1. Personal growth. A good marriage fosters personal growth, and personal growth fosters a good marriage. In this context, growth refers to a continual process of learning about yourself, expanding your point of view, and extending yourself into the world.
  2. Willingness to challenge each other. You care most for your partner when you demand that he become the best that he can be. Accepting people exactly as they are is a form of abandonment. In the Shechtmans' view, challenging your partner is a vote of confidence and a sign of respect.
  3. Preeminence of the adult relationship. Marriage works best when it is given a higher priority than any other relationship in either partner's life. This includes priority over even your children. When parents subrogate their own adult relationship needs to the needs of their children, they end up making the children feel responsible for making them happy.
  4. Dedication to your life's purpose. In a great marriage, each partner is deeply committed to and actively involved in some endeavor outside the marriage. You never will be satisfied with your relationship if you are expecting it to supply the fulfillment that comes from pursuing a vision.
  5. Inner renewal. It is essential that each partner regularly tap into some source of inner renewal. This can be accomplished through religious or spiritual practices, and also can come from the enjoyment of nature or art, exercise or hobbies, journaling or simply spending quiet time alone with oneself.
  6. Personal responsibility. In a great marriage, both partners assume full responsibility for their own inner lives. They don't view their partner as the cause of what they are feeling. It is mutually understood that while you can't control what your partner does, you are completely free to choose your own response to what he does.
  7. Accountability. Accountability in marriage means keeping one's word, following through on commitments, telling the truth, and accepting the full consequences of what we do and neglect to do.
  8. Quality communication. Real intimacy is based on the quality of communication, not the quantity of time you spend together. This means regularly sharing with your partner what is happening in your inner life and listening with full attention when your partner shares with you.

Surprised by some of these principles? Most people are. And yet, radical as it may seem to those of us raised on an unrealistic diet of marriage myths, what the Shechtmans are saying makes perfect sense to those who've embraced their ideas.

"When partners share common values, they have a common ground upon which they can resolve just about any conflict," explains Morrie. "They discover that despite whatever dissatisfactions may be ruffling the surface of their marriage, they have chosen the right partner."

"Few marriage counselors will admit that all relationship advice is values-based," Arleah adds. "Anyone who tells you how to have a better relationship is operating out of their own vision of what a better relationship looks like. The values we base our relationship book on are the values that keep our relationship whole. We are judgmental. And we think our readers should be judgmental too."

For Immediate Release

For a review copy of the book
or an interview with the authors,
please contact Morrie Shechtman,
at (406) 752-9270 or info@fifthwaveleadership.com

 

Back to top

 

Is Your Marriage a Symbiotic Blob?
If you've never let go of the "honeymoon phase," it may be. A surprising new book explains how to move from blobdom to autonomy and mutual respect.

Boulder, CO (January 2004)—Ah, the bliss of falling in love! Nothing compares to the early days of being with your beloved. You seem to be able to read each other's mind; you never tire of each other's company; you even find his or her flaws and idiosyncrasies utterly adorable. When you're in the throes of this emotional high, it's hard to imagine it ever coming to an end. And when it does—and it always does—you're confused and sad. You want nothing more than to recapture that feeling . . . but according to Morrie and Arleah Shechtman, authors of the new book Love in the Present Tense: How to Have a High Intimacy, Low Maintenance Marriage (2004; Bull Press; ISBN: 0-923521-81-X), it's best to come back down to earth.

According to the Shechtmans—psychotherapists who hold intensive retreats for couples committed to creating healthier marriages—this blissful state of new love is a re-creation of the symbiotic relationship we had as infants with our primary caregiver, usually our mother. When the honeymoon ends, couples often attempt to keep up some sort of reciprocal relationship wherein one partner takes responsibility for the happiness of the other. Complication and drama become a substitute for intimacy and the relationship transforms into a symbiotic blob in which closeness exists only when someone is in crisis.
Is your marriage a symbiotic blob? Here are some of the telltale signs:

  1. Your partner asks, "What do you feel like doing tonight?" You reply, "I don't know. What do you feel like doing?" Or vice versa. Each of you is so concerned with pleasing the other that you can't seem to come up with any desires of your own. Until you hear what your partner wants, you truly don't know what you want.
  2. You can't make even minor decisions without consulting your partner—or your partner can't make a decision without consulting you. Either one person makes all the decisions or else each defers to the other to such an extent that no decisions get made at all.
  3. You do all of your socializing as a couple. If you meet someone you like and your partner doesn't like her, then you don't pursue the friendship.
  4. One of you consistently tries to control the other. The controlling partner ridicules the other's personal tastes and interests, and the submissive partner gives up liking whatever the controlling partner disdains. The controlling partner constantly offers unsolicited advice about matters that any grown-up can figure out for himself.
  5. One or both of you is given to irrational bouts of jealousy. You feel threatened if your partner develops a crush on a movie star, or your partner feels threatened if you become friends with a member of the opposite sex. The possibility that your partner could feel even a casual attraction to someone else strikes you as utterly catastrophic.
  6. If your partner is angry or disappointed with you, you can't feel better until your partner feels better. If your partner seems unhappy in general, you assume it's your fault.
  7. You are deeply dissatisfied with some important aspect of your life—what you do for a living, where you live, dreams and aspirations you've allowed to fall by the wayside, etc.—and blame this circumstance on your marriage. You believe your partner's happiness depends on the sacrifice of what you yourself desire.
  8. You feel that the independent actions of your partner reflect on you. If your partner wears a striped shirt with plaid pants or tells a joke that falls flat, then you feel personally embarrassed. If your partner offends someone you know, then you feel responsible for setting things right.
  9. Even now that you are grown, you feel afraid of disappointing one or both of your parents. You allow yourself to be controlled by the displeasure of family members. Adults who have not declared independence from their families of origin tend to form symbiotic relationships with their spouses.

The Shechtmans maintain that you can keep your marriage from becoming a symbiotic blob if you accept that, eventually, the honeymoon is going to end. Don't just accept it, they maintain; actually take the time to grieve the loss of the symbiosis you experienced during the nascent stages of your relationship. The high-maintenance honeymoon phase can lay the foundation of closeness that makes for a satisfying low-maintenance relationship later if you can manage to pry yourselves apart long enough to regain autonomy and develop mutual respect.

 

Back to top