March 21, 2004
Rich Curtis and Craig Johnson
Good and Bad Marriages
Carolyn and Craig are licensed marriage
and family therapists and both have served as president of the local chapter
of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.
The two took turns explaining what
makes bad marriages and, later in the program, what makes good marriages. They
often reverted to role playing to give examples of what they meant. Their approach
was based on the work of John Gottman, author of An Introduction to a Scientifically
Based Marital Therapy. They started by saying that most relationships start
out with a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. If this ratio reaches
1:1 or worse there are real problems for the marriage, especially since bad
feelings tend to be more intense than good ones.
They said that men are more easily
aroused than women and that this is a result of the working of evolution through
our hunter-gatherer ancestors. The "fight or flight" response and the resulting
quick arousal for men once had survival value. Women, on the other hand, are
more sensitive to social cues and can more easily tell when a relationship is
going wrong. A good strategy, they claim, is for the wife to reduce the husband’s
arousal and for the husband, in turn, to accept the influence of the wife. Try
to defuse the argument but, at the same time, do not pretend that differences
do not exist. Isolation from one’s spouse is not a solution if the marriage
is to continue.
They cautioned that relapse after
therapy is fairly common and that therapy "tune-ups" every six months or so
should be helpful.
Report prepared by Wayne Luney, HAGSA Recorder
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