Category Archives: Marriage

The Breakfast Dance


A perfectly fine Spring morning ruined by words.

Over coffee, eggs and toast, words between us that push the other away.

I said, you are angry. More of an accusation than a question. I did ask a question earlier but that was also met with defensiveness.

It’s your tone, he said. It’s the self-righteous, I can’t believe you would do such a stupid thing tone. He said he would have responded differently if the words were more humbly from a place of I know you struggle with letting go, so do I.

He said, I said, attack, defend, avoid, blame. And the dance continues.

And then I opened my email to find Dr. Crabb’s Weekly Words:

“Once we see that words can have power, we must no longer be content with shallow words that mean little.  We must set out to harness that power with a clear awareness that words can both tear down and build up.”

Encouragement, Page 22

Question for Reflection:

  • How have you experienced the power of words in your life recently?  Did they tear down or build up?

Confessions of Anxiety and Other-Validated Intimacy, Part I


Last year as I sat across the table from one of my Doctors she said “I don’t think depression is your main thing, I think it’s anxiety. You seem to be very anxious, in fact I feel more anxious in your presence.”

That is when I first realized how much my anxiety affected others and how other people’s anxiety was affecting me.

In light of what I read in Passionate Marriage I also realized that people who are ‘healthier’, more mature, more secure in themselves, more differentiated (as Schnarch would call it) are less affected by other people’s anxiety.

Last year my goal was to reduce stress causing obligations that was within my power to reduce and then take better care of myself (body, mind & soul) in an attempt to learn to how to handle the unavoidable stress in my life.

My life improved in many ways. The depression lifted without medication. But when crisis came back into my life I still responded in ways I did not want to and I had physical symptoms related to anxiety.

As I read the chapter ‘Intimacy Is Not For The Faint Of Heart’ in ‘Passionate Marriage’, I found myself saying “I do that”, over and over in my head. Here is my confession, the quotes I responded to with identification and the examples of this concept in my life (past and present):

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Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch: Quotes I want to Remember


Chapter 1 Nobody’s Ready for Marriage – Marriage Makes You Ready for Marriage

“We’re driven by something that makes us look like we crave intimacy, but in fact we’re after something else: we want someone else to make us feel acceptable and worthwhile. We’ve assigned the label ‘intimacy’ to what we want (validation and reciprocal disclosure) and developed pop psychologies that give it to us – while keeping true intimacy away. We’ve distorted what intimacy is, how it feels, how much we really want it, and how best to get it. Once we realize that intimacy is not always soothing and often makes us feel insecure, it is clear why we back away from it.”

“We usually think problems with sex and intimacy are caused by how we’re uniquely screwed up. I propose, instead, that they’re often caused by being normal.”

“Often, however, the problem is not a matter of peeling away layers but of developing them – growing ourselves up to be mature and resourceful adults who can solve our current problems.”

“Passionate Marriage is about resilience rather than damage, health rather than old woulds, and human potential rather than trauma.”

“We’ve applied this same image to marriage and concluded our partner is supposed to soothe us and not do thing that make us insecure.”

“Seeking protection from its pain and pleasures misses its purpose: marriage prepares us to live and love on life’s terms. Facing relationship realities like these produces the personal integrity necessary for intimacy, eroticism, and a lifetime loving marriage……Integrity is the ability to face the realities I just mentioned. It’s living according to your own values and beliefs in the face of opposition. It is also the ability to change your values, beliefs and behaviors when your well-considered judgement or concern for others dictate it. Putting your partner’s goals on par with your own and delaying your agenda accordingly takes (and makes) integrity.”

“Is anybody really ready to get married? I doubt it. Nobody’s ready for marriage. Marriage makes you ready for marriage!”

“We get married for the wrong reasons because we haven’t matured enough for the right reasons to exist yet. Struggling with wrong reasons for getting married can produce right reasons to stay married.”

“We like to believe that ‘communication problems’ underlie most relationship difficulties because we welcome the idea we can literally ‘understand’ and ‘express’ our way out of our dilemmas.”

“After seeing this go on repeatedly in my office – and my own home – I’ve concluded that some dilemmas aren’t meant to be ‘fixed.’ All problems aren’t meant to be ‘smoothed.’ The solutions we see sometimes come for living through them. We spin intricate webs until we have no way around them. We can escape the situation we’ve created (temporarily), but we can’t escape ourselves. Our self-made crises are custom-tailored, painstakingly crafted, and always fit perfectly. We construct emotional knots until, eventually, we are willing to go through them. It mays sound farfetched, but sexual dysfunctions are blessing to couples who use them well. In like fashion, we sometimes create situations that ask us to risk our marriage in order to receive its bounty.

Approached in this light, committed relationships become epic dramas of heroism rather than soap operas. The suffering and strife inherent in marriage are as purposeful as its delights.”

“…write in Notes To Each Other: Did I pick the right person? This question inverts the starting and ending points. We do not pick our perfect match because we are not perfect. The universe hands u a flawless diamond – in the rough. Only if we are willing to polish off every part of ourselves that cannotjoin do we end up with a soul mate.”

“This polishing process in marriage is what I referred to earlier as differentiation. In a nutshell, differentiation is the process by which we become more uniquely ourselves by maintaining ourselves in relationship with those we love. It’s the process of grinding off rough edges through the normal abrasions of long-term intimate relationships.”

“Differentiation brings tenderness, generosity, and compassion – all traits of good marriages.”

Chapter 4:

“Basically, the lower our level of differentiation, the more prone we are to engage in highly dependent relationships, where we find ourselves struggling with a chronic urge either to fuse or escape.”

“Poorly differentiated people have difficulty handling anxiety. As a result, they deal with it through their relationship because emotional fusion can temporarily reduce anxiety and restore a sense of identity and purpose…..they become increasingly dependent on their relationship and their partner – or avoid emotional contact altogether.”

“If you are threatened by any tension in your relationship, then you will get anxious whenever your partner does, and you will have difficulty comforting yourself…..The result is that you feel compelled to reduce each other’s anxieties and avoid triggering new ones. In other words, you end up trying to control both your relationship and your partner in order to get control of yourself.”

“…a new and important aspect of differentiation: differentiation is the ability to soothe your own anxiety and to resist being infected with other people’s anxiety. Anxiety is contagious and poorly differentiated people pass it between them like a virus.”

“In poorly differentiated families, when one person gets anxious, everyone gets anxious.”

“When you can modulate your anxiety you’re neither driven by your feelings nor afraid of them, and you don’t need to use your intellect all the time because you aren’t ‘stifling’ your feelings.”


He First Loved Me


February 6th 1982 this photo was taken before our Wedding Ceremony (so the guests wouldn’t have to wait while the wedding party was being photographed). It’s one of my favorite photos from our Wedding Day. The look on his face as he is looking at me still melts my heart. He saw me, wanted me and looked forward to sharing the rest of his life with me. He vowed to love me knowing it would bring compromise and sacrifice through unknown circumstances.

Click through to see more photos.

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