Tag Archives: group therapy

Group Therapy Thursday – Marriage. That’s it.

22 Sep

Hi there! Did you pop in for Group Therapy Thursday? Awesome! Guess what though? I only got one submission this week. One single, solitary, lonely question. That’s all I’ve got for you today.

So let’s jump into to our one question, shall we?

Dear Mo and the Group,

What sorts of things are important in planning, not a wedding, but a marriage?  What conversations MUST you have with your partner before saying “I do”?  What can you do to keep your relationship thriving, even during times that are less for-better and more for-worse? 



Yes, I did it! No nickname, and you will be Rapier! I loves me some HP references. Now, to your question: This sounds cheesy, but I think the secret is not just in pre-marital conversations, but also in making sure the conversations continue constantly throughout the marriage.  I think that the basis of a marriage is not love, sex, or anything like that. At the end of the day, by getting married, you are creating your own independent family unit. Remember when you were 5, 6, 7 years old? Your whole world was your parents. Everyone else were bit players. The main characters were you, your parents, and any siblings you had. By getting married, you’re making a brand new film, where you and your husband are the main characters. That means that your priorities shift. Everyone else, including your parents, now become supporting characters. (I’m stretching the movie metaphor a bit thin here I know. Sorry).

So first thing’s first – are you ready for that? Is he ready to put you first in his life?

The main pre-marital conversations I think have to do with the basics.

First: How will you be handling your money? Do you want to go back to school, or be a Stay-at-Home mom? Does he? Would he be ok with either of these options? How will you be handling your finances? How will you decide on where to spend your money? What happens if one of you wants to buy an expensive luxury item for themselves- do they have to run it by you? What are the big-ticket items that are important to you? A house? A yearly vacation? Finances are always a point of contention, so better to hash out as much as possible ahead of time.

Second: Children (and of course the issue of IF). How many do you want? If you know that you may be facing IF treatments, how far are both of you willing to go? How much money are you willing to spend? How will you handle disagreements on the subject? Beyond that – knowing how to raise your children. If you’re both from different religious backgrounds, I truly believe that is something that needs to be hashed out in advance. It can cause a lot of unwanted conflict. How do you think you’d handle discipline? This is another major cause of conflict.

Third: Infidelity. The fact is that research says that a large percentage (can’t find the number right now – but I know it’s more than 60%) of married couples face infidelity. There’s no point in mincing words about this. I’m not saying to give him permission ahead of time. What I am saying is to think to yourself – if he or you are tempted to be unfaithful, how would you want that situation handled? For example, I made it very clear to Shmerson from day one that for me, the thing I can’t stand about infidelity is the lying. If sometime in the future, he feels like he’s crushing on someone and may be tempted, I’d much rather he just be honest with me ahead of time so we can hash it out. If he has a drunk night where he loses control, I’d want to know about it immediately. Being lied to for me is far more important than the infidelity itself. So what about you? What is your priority and how would you like it to be handled?

Fourth: The in-laws. Do you get along with his parents? Does he with yours? If not, how will you resolve these conflicts? How will you split up holiday visits? What will you do if you need financial assistance from them?

Finally: Divorce. I know, I know. You’re just getting married, why the hell do you want to talk about divorce? Well, 50% of all marriages end in one. So it’s better to set some ground rules just in case. Do you feel like a pre-nup would be a good option in your case? Would you consider couples counseling? For example – Shmerson and I have a set rule: if we ever get in trouble, we take one year of couples counseling before even uttering the D-word. We’ve both committed to that, so we can make a fair attempt to solve our problems if they arise, and not run away from them.

As for the marriage itself – in my opinion, the key is communicating openly and honestly about your relationship, always. Dishonesty, or hiding your feelings, leads to bottled up emotion, which can explode in hurtful ways when you least expect it. If something bothers you, make an effort to point it out immediately. Don’t keep it in to use as ammunition later. There is nothing worse than pent up aggression. Even if it scares you to say it. This is a stupid metaphor – but I like those so bear with me – let’s say you were walking around with spinach in your teeth, and your partner didn’t say anything for fear of making you uncomfortable. Then you come home and find out that you’ve been walking around like that all day. Wouldn’t you be mad at him for NOT telling you? If you keep things to yourself for a long time, and it comes out in a huge explosion out of nowhere, your partner will be more hurt than he/she would have been had you just said something in the first place. A small moment of discomfort trumps months or years of pent up frustration.

There are two more issues I want to talk about:

Flaws: Some people walk into a relationship wanting to “change” someone. They think he or she will get better. Or that bad habits will go away with enough time, nagging, or work. This is not always the case. When you jump into marriage, you’re marrying the whole person – flaws and all. Yes, he or she may change. But they may not. Of course, people evolve with time, but sometimes certain things just don’t go away. If there’s something about your partner that you have a hard time with, don’t go in expecting that to be any different 5, 10 years down the line. It may, and it may not be. Expecting it to be will just lead to disappointment. You “buy” your partner “as-is”. If you can’t accept his or her flaws, then seriously consider whether you want to stay with him/her. Sure they will change, but their inherent character most likely will not. And if you can’t live in peace with who they are, perhaps there is no way for the two of you to live in peace in the long term.

Fun: This is so incredibly important! Life gets serious. Mortgages need to be paid. Cars need to be serviced. Jobs, medical issues, insurance… The list goes on and on. Things can get dull. They can get heavy. They can get hard. As hard as it gets, don’t forget to have some fun once in a while. Be silly. Throw whipped cream at each other while cooking dessert. Go out for cotton candy. Sing a stupid song. Do a stupid dance. Make each other laugh. Always hold on to that. Because sometimes shit gets heavy. And if you forget how to make each other smile, then you’ve forgotten how to love each other.

That’s my take. What do you ladies think makes a good marriage?

So. It’s lucky the ONE question I got is a complex one. Ladies, don’t let me down! For GTT to go on you must bare all!

Here, I’ll even put up a brand spanking new submission form right here in this post.

Look at that! With new options and everything!

Have at it, chicas.

Group Therapy Thursday – Sex, Marriage, Moving, and Pee-Sticks!

8 Sep

I’ve gotten some awesome messages from you guys. Thanks so much for participating! I couldn’t post all of them today, but I promise that if it’s not posted today, it’ll make it on here soon!

So are we ready…? Here we go (this is exciting)!

Dear Mo and the Group,

Sex is on my mind a lot lately!  The problem is this: I was married for a long time and after getting divorced I hit it off with the first guy I dated and he now lives with me.  But lately I find myself attracted to many men and women and I wish I had dated more before getting into another committed relationship.  I’ve had sex with just two men and although it’s been pretty satisfying I desire more sexual experiences.  My suggestion of having an open relationship did not go over well and I don’t think I want to break up with my sweet boyfriend just to have casual sex.

So tell me, am I missing out on anything by having had so few sexual partners?  How have others handled these feelings?

Thanks for your help,

Practically a Virgin


I personally was a bit of a slut in high school, so I can’t talk from experience here (I’ll leave that to everyone in the comments who has been in your shoes). But do allow me to make a suggestion:

Threesome! Seriously. If you feel like you may be a bit into girls, then you should bring up the option of doing a threesome with your partner and another girl. No man in his right mind would say no to that. This way you get to be sexually adventurous without actually opening up the relationship. I’m going to pull from the Dan Savage handbook here and suggest that if you decide to do that, set some very clear boundaries ahead of time for both you and your boyfriend, and make sure that you treat the woman who you bring into the “circle” with you guys with respect, and of course, be very safe about everything.  As Mr. Savage says, monogamy shouldn’t be the death of sexual adventure. I have plenty more to say about this, but I’ll leave it here for now and let the group chime in, and maybe add more later in the comments!

Dear Mo and The Group,

If you have to move in 9 months-ish (husband is finishing college, you never intended to stay where you are now forever), and you’ve narrowed the choice down to three awesome cities, all of which have pros and cons, how do you make the final decision?

This one is from Kristen. I emailed her and asked her for some more info, specifically, what ARE the pros and cons, and what cities are they considering?

Denver/Boulder, CO

Pros: Close to family, easy to move (already live in the same state), friends there, great snowboarding, affordable

Cons: The city itself is the least favorite city, not near the ocean

Seattle, WA

Pros: Beautiful, near water, husband and I both have our best friends there, moderate cost

Cons: Rainy and gray in the winter, has both snowboarding and surfing but both are a drive and not the best quality

Santa Barbara, CA

Pros: Beautiful, beach lifestyle (I’ve lived there before and felt like I was on vacation the whole time), surfing

Cons: Expensive, lived there with my brother who died and afraid I might be sad going back there, have friends there but not as close of friends as in other places

Before I give my take, it’s important to note that Kristen, after a heck of a lot of heartbreak, is 9 weeks pregnant. With twins! Yay Kristen! I’m going to take that into consideration in my answer.

Off the top of my head, I think Santa Barbara should be knocked off the list. Considering this economy, price is definitely an issue, and I think it may be hard on you because of your history there. Not to mention the lack of family/friends.

Which brings me to my real insight here: especially once those little ones come, you’re going to want to have a support system around you. I know you’re only 9 weeks and you have the IF paranoia, so you don’t even want to look that far ahead. But you should, especially since you need to make the decision soon.

I think beyond beaches and weather, you need to have people who you love close to you. Whether it’s close friends or family is not necessarily important, but whichever it is, it will be a huge help.

I’ve heard often that after a woman gives birth, no matter what her age or circumstance, she will instinctively “want her mommy.” I know you’re close with your mom, and you should definitely tick that  box in favor of CO.

But – Seattle is awesome, and it seems like you have a support system there as well.

So I would suggest keeping that in mind, and also thinking about where you want your kids to grow up. Do you want them to be in a family atmosphere? Do you want them to grow up in a really cool city, but farther away from their grandparents? Which is more important to you?

Guys – what do you think? I know a couple of you have lived in these cities – perhaps you have some extra insight?

Hey Mo and the Group,

My husband and I have been together (including dating years) for 8 years.  We have been having difficulties in our intimate area of our life for, well, as long as we have been having sex, but we always felt like we had enough other great things going on that it wasn’t everything.  We have been struggling with IF for 2 years, and had a miscarriage last fall.  For work reasons, we have been apart for about 2 months.  A little over a week ago, he called to tell me he had slept with another woman, a mutual friend who he has known since high school.

   After spending about 48 hours vacillating between hysterics and catatonics, I’ve come to a place of contemplation (aka over-analysis).  He is incredibly apologetic, and been very straight forward about the situation.  I do want to work on this… but I also realize that just because we try to fix this, doesn’t mean we can.

   So after driving three days he is back, and things are a mix of familiar/normal and awkward/strange, trying to figure out what our relationship looks like.  Doing our best to be honest about what we both want and need.  While we plan to pursue counseling, I think we are both a little lost as to what we should do (or not do) right now, and that is where I really just need as much input as I can get.   Specifically I’m trying to wrap my head around the concepts of “love” and “forgiveness” in such an unexpected situation.  How does a couple go about rebuilding the trust?  How do I know we are better, as opposed to me just wishing we were (aka denial)?  How do I know if/when it’s over, and I should stop trying?

Bleeding Tulip

Hi there BT!

Let me start from the end, I don’t think there is anything specific you need to do, except listen to your gut. Do you want him around right now or do you need some time alone? There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself some space. I don’t know if you guys have the capacity to re-build trust, and I don’t know where you would start rebuilding it. I do know that this type of brain-spinny craziness is not good for either of you. I’ve never been in your situation, and I’m sorry you’re going through this. All I know is this: I’ve always trusted my gut. For example, I was in a relationship for 2 years, we were living together, and the second the guy started talking marriage my gut told me to break up with him. I was all alone in a city with no family around and no money, but I moved out, and it was the best decision I ever made. We’re still friends, I introduced him to his wife, and I have Shmerson. I didn’t roll it around in my head, I just listened to my gut. Your gut will never fail you as long as you listen to it without judgement.

Now –  allow me to dwell on something in the first paragraph, that I think is the most telling: You guys have been together since you were 18. And your sex life has always been lacking.

I find this worrisome. I’m not saying great sex is the cornerstone of a marriage, but you guys were 18! That’s hormone city! If it wasn’t hot and heavy then, well, I’m not sure if it really can be.

I know your IF struggle is clouding this, and you’ve got major case of the baby-crazies, which is most likely clouding your objective judgement. I want you to put the baby-crazies aside for a minute ok? Rewind to two years ago before the IF kicked in. If this had happened two years ago, what would you have done?

I think that should be your true answer. Have an honest conversation with yourself about your needs beyond the baby issue. Just put yourself in those 24-year-old shoes and see where they lead you.

Those are my two cents. What do you guys think?

Dear Mo and The Group,

Do other women in the IF/Loss community hoard their pee-sticks?  I’m not talking about stockpiling pregnancy tests for testing, or keeping your positive tests.  I’m talking about keeping every negative test I’ve taken.  They are stashed in the bottom of a drawer. I don’t understand why I do this, but I do.  Nor do I go back and look at them afterwards.  

~Future TLC Special In the Making

Hmmm… Interesting one. First of all, yes, reading HPT’s after the designated time is a really bad idea, so it’s good you don’t do that. I don’t necessarily hoard my BFN’s, but there was a time that I did hoard a couple, and look at them with a serious case of the bitter. They were a good trigger if I needed a good long cry. However, three losses in, I no longer do that. I don’t think it’s weird though. My guess is it happens more often than you’d think.

Any IFer’s out there need their own TLC special as well? “Pee-stick Hoarders – buried alive!” No, wait “Pee-ntervention!” No, that’s Bravo. “Kate plus 8 (thousand pee sticks)!” “Extreme Peesticking!”

I could go on forever. But I won’t. Thank you folks, don’t forget to tip your servers!

That’s all for today! I know there’s plenty of fodder out there for discussion, so comment away!

You guys sent in some awesome questions. Sorry that I couldn’t get to all of them – but keep them coming!

If you want to take part in next week’s Group Therapy Thursday, please head over to the launch post and fill out the handy-dandy form.

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