Marriage & Relationships

Twists and Turns on the Road of Life

Every day, it's a-gettin' closer, Goin' faster than a roller coaster.Buddy Holly could have been describing my life since I last wrote. Much has happened, including more than the usual travel for work. But that was just the beginning. This past September my boss had me to go to Germany for a retreat for America......... more »

Boundaries of Intimacy

I am not sure how the usage of the word “intimacy” became synonymous with sex, but in most circles it has. We hear it on the news, in public presentations, and in articles. While I believe “making love” by definition is an act of intimacy, having sexual intercourse itself is not necessarily. As we know, these t......... more »

Planning a Wedding After 50:  Lawyers, Botox, and Tombstones

I am 53 now and will be 54 by the time I get married this summer.  No, this is not my first rodeo.  My first “rodeo” took place when I was 21.  It was a different place, a different time, and I was a different person then.  I married a very nice man and we were married for over 20 years, but it ran its course, ......... more »

And Then There’s The Grandkids

As Terry has said, the most contentious issues most couples face include: sex, money, in-laws and children…not necessarily in that order. And then there’s the grandkids. For some older couples, there’s the heartache of grandchildren longed for, but never conceived or born. Or those born to an estranged chil......... more »

Finding the Right Emotion Word

Over and over, men hear some version of the same question: “What are you feeling?” It’s a question many men finding annoying, unnecessary, even accusatory. From boyhood on, many men (especially older men) have been socialized to not pay attention to their emotions. Their rationale: if they express an emotion like......... more »

Keeping Secrets

I had gotten a new motorcycle about eight years ago and wanted to test it out on a curvy road close to our house. I went down the road to check for law enforcement people. No one there so I took off and all of a sudden, the flashing red light behind came on. I think the young officer was surprised to see this old guy t......... more »

Once More, With Feeling…  Good Communication begins with Empathetic Listening

  Last month I wrote about the fifteen different ways Cognitive-Behavioral expert David Burns suggested that we can communicate badly, beginning with the need to defend our “truth.” Not to worry if you don’t remember more than 2 or 3 of those 15 communication “potholes. “ The details are less importan......... more »

Life in the Middle

An accordion. That’s what my life feels like right now, with pressure from two sides. I reflected on this in my first “Fine Winer” article, that I’m feeling the “middle” in “middle age.” My wife, Joy, and I are dealing with the growing pains of our young adult kids, and with aging parents. We worry a......... more »

Too much time on Facebook?

A new report published recently in the Washington Post analyzed the sexual habits of 26,000 people. It turns out that this group had sex 53 times in 2014, down from 62 times a quarter a century ago. The drop off was most pronounced among married people, who now have sex 55 times a year, down from 73 times a year in 199......... more »

To Be or Not to Be…That’s the First Question

I started to write the blog I intended to write this month about “good” communication, and then stopped. As the list of “bad” communication techniques suggests, communicating well takes focus and effort, often requiring that we override our automatic tendencies to “get” others to either see things our way o......... more »

The Sunny Side of Control

Several years ago I took two years of Chinese cooking classes. I even had two woks and was full of myself. In my first marriage, I even had a cooking island—it felt like a Benihana style restaurant. I had a married couple over for a seven course Chinese dinner and everything was going well. I was down to my last ‘h......... more »

When “Truth” gets in the way: “Good” vs. “Bad” Communication

In past articles, Terry and I have talked about the importance of not keeping secrets, which can build walls between us. This would imply that telling the truth serves connection and closeness in relationships. Unfortunately, as with most things, this “ain’t necessarily so.” Sometimes the “truth” can drive......... more »

Reflections in the Quiet

This month began with my 55th birthday. I anticipated this milestone with some anxiety, because it was at Christmas, 1970, that my grandfather died of a heart attack while on a business trip to Galesburg, Illinois. I was 9. That Christmas morning, I opened his final present to me, a beagle puppy that we named “Mitzi.......... more »

All Is Not Fair In Love

I agree heartily with Terry’s idea that couples do better when there is a sense of fairness about who does what, gets what or controls what is happening. Equity fosters equanimity and limits the buildup of resentment. That said, we have to careful about what we consider “fair and equal,” or what we think will ......... more »


I think many of us have a similar story from the past. I had an older brother, Larry, and when our mom had one piece of pie left, she’d give the command, ‘One cuts, the other chooses.’ I suspect there was not a 64th of an inch difference because we both knew intuitively what was fair. How about our relationshi......... more »

Decisive Differences

Another way we can differ is in how we decide. In a book by that name written in 2009, Jonah Lehrer suggested that ALL our decisions involve the emotional part of our brain, and that without it we may struggle to make even the most simple of decisions. Indeed, those with damage to the orbital frontal cortex, which i......... more »


An old line from the AA crowd comes to mind, “You’re only as sick as your secrets.” Twice in the last week in my work, people asked for advice on what to do with significant information they have not told their partners. In one, a young woman is getting married to a Mormon man who has not had a sexual life. She�......... more »

For Better of Worse: in sickness and in health, till death do us part

Three weeks ago, while we were having our usual pre-lesson chat with our tango teachers, Terry said he felt dizzy and didn’t think he would be able to dance that day. When he added that he had some discomfort in the left side of his jaw, I suggested we head to the emergency room. He insisted on making a detour home t......... more »

What is a ‘good sexual life’ for us older adults?

In my first post on, I wrote about the five markers of a ‘good marriage.’ Coming in fifth on the list was sexual compatibility. This is one of the touchier issues to address for many couples. For some couples, sexual compatibility is being sexual three times a week; for others, being sexually compatib......... more »

Your Emotional ‘bank account’

Perhaps one of the most useful ideas I learned in graduate school was the concept of the ‘emotional bank account.’ This is very similar to your checking account—it is not fixed or static. You make deposits, you make withdrawals. These deposits and withdrawals are deposits or withdrawals of trust. If I bring my wi......... more »

The Dance of Intimacy: A Female Perspective

I agree with Terry that sexual intimacy is an important aspect of a primary relationship, and along with matters related to family and finances, the one most likely to lead to problems if not adequately tended. It is also one of those areas in which male and female points of view, preferences and needs can differ. I......... more »

The Big Four

About eighty percent of relationship issues surround four major issues. Not in order are the four: Sex, Money, In-Laws, and Children. Why these four are so potent is that they reflect the person’s values of what is important, and how to deal with them. The great difficulty in discussing these issues is staying away f......... more »

Keeping Time in The Dance of the Relationship: It All Depends on How you Look at It

The Extraversion/Introversion orientation isn’t the only way we differ in our approach to life.  We also differ in how we notice, attend to, acquire, collect and recall information. As in the story of the blind men and the elephant, where each declared the elephant to be completely like the part they could feel, you......... more »

True North

I’ve been a fan of neuropsychology for the past several years—learning about the amazing things the brain can do. However, the issue of being psychologically healthy has been around this planet for several thousands of years. I think the following four points are in all cultures and all religions in one form or ano......... more »

Talking to Think vs. Thinking to Talk

Terry mentioned the fact that many couples don’t talk much, with 27 and ½ minutes a week being about average. But talking isn’t the only way of communicating, and as Terry pointed out, shared activities play a vital role in keeping a couple’s connection alive. In looking at how we do that “dance” of co......... more »


When you ask 400 physicians and 700 therapists the question, “How do you know when you’ve seen a good marriage?”—you get the same answers in the same order. In my world, this has become one of the benchmarks I quickly use when I meet with a couple. The five markers are: 1. The frequent and open display of affec......... more »