March 5, 2004 April 2, 2004Meeting Report

March 21, 2004

Carolyn 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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March 5, 2004 2004 Meetings April 2, 2004