Safety vs Saving Your Marriage!

At Power of Two Marriage we pride ourselves on teaching the skills to enable couples to build happy, healthy and SAFE marriage.  However, we also know there are situations where the most important thing is to find a safe way to leave the relationship.

We’re super grateful to Trevor McDonald for sharing this awesome post on marriage and safety with us!

Interested in writing for Po2?  Drop us a line!

Domestic Violence: How to Spot the Warning Signs

Domestic violence can be traumatic and hard to escape from. It can also be hard for family members of a victim to know if they really are involved in an abusive relationship. Often times the victim is afraid to come forward about their abuse. Victims may be afraid that if there is a lack of proof, their partner may punish them for trying to report them.

This is why it is so important to know the warning signs of domestic violence. The following are some things to look out for if you think a friend or loved one is involved in an abusive relationship:

Mood swings and out-of- character personality: Often those who have been a victim of abuse will begin to have low self-esteem. Depression, anxiety, and trouble sleeping also are warning signs.  Finally, pay attention if you notice an unusual tendency to become more angry, or to begin to isolate themselves from family functions.

Missing work or school unexpectedly: Victims of abuse may begin to miss work or school, sometimes without notice. This may be caused noticeable injuries, depression, or by force from their abusive partner.

Substance abuse: An abusive partner often is engaged in substance abuse. More than 25% of abusive men are addicted to drugs, and roughly 90% of men abused drugs the same day they abused their partner. Victims of domestic violence also commonly start abusing drugs. This may be a coping mechanism deal with trauma or depression.

Excuses for injuries: Victims of domestic violence will often come up with excuses for all of their injuries. This may be a sign if it is happening over and over (for instances falling down stairs, bumping their head, tripping or falling, etc). If a loved one is constantly getting injured it can definitely be a sign something more is going on.

Taking blame: It is a common symptom for those traumatized by abuse to take blame for almost everything, even when it is not logical. They may apologize too often or take the blame for events that happen to other people. This can be a sign of emotional and verbal abuse.

Remember, domestic violence is not just strictly physical abuse. In fact, domestic violence often includes verbal abuse, threats, stalking, or breaches of privacy. An abusive partner may read emails, look through their partner’s phone, threaten them to do things they do not want to do, threaten to harm themselves as leverage, or call their partner mean names like fat, ugly, stupid, or expletives. These can all cause psychological trauma and are not healthy in a normal relationship.

Sound like someone you know?  Reach out for help.  The National Domestic Violence Hotline — — is a GREAT place to start.  Reach out for yourself or for someone you are worried about!

Online marriage chat based coaching

We hear from Power of Two members everyday.  That’s because every member is assigned a real live person to be there marriage coach.  At Power of Two our online marriage chat based coaching helps our members apply the content they are learning.  Our coaches review all your work and give you feedback and encouragement.  Their answers are never canned.  Each coach listens to you and your situation and sends help just for you.

Your Power of Two coach is there to help with marriage problems and to be with you along the journey as you explore our resources and our uniques option for online marriage counseling.

Here are a few recent snipits.  Enjoy!

We are just so thankful & it’s been great to know from the beginning that anytime of the day or night I can just email my comments,questions to my coach.   I don’t know anywhere else where that wonderful service is available, because I don’t think it is available anywhere else!   We are just so fortunate to have the skills of all involved at PO2 to assist us all in our quest for good communication in our marriages resulting in a closer relationship with out spouse.  — Jenny

And here’s how online marriage chat based coaching helped another member.

Thank you, Linda! I really like this program as it’s getting me to think about my approach to our relationship (and also allows me to see where I have been obstinate and reactive, which of course didn’t get me the desired result and just left both of us more upset.) and I am practicing my fledgling skills in our limited contact with one another. So far we are 2 for two (from my end, at least) in our interactions this week, so I take that as a good thing. 🙂 I’ll keep working through these modules. Thank you again for being there and being so supportive. I really appreciate it.  — K.O.

Online marriage chat based counseling gets you the right information with a real human to help you make changes for the better!

I just listened to the podcast that you attached and appreciate that you sent me something right on target for where I am up to now. It was a great reminder of how things could work better and I’ll try. Getting this message from you makes the site so interactive and I really love the personal guidance.



Happy couples at Power of Two a result of online marriage chat based coaching

Turkey and Politics – Helping your marriage survive Thanksgiving

marriage, politics and turkeys!

Marriage, politics, Thanksgiving — a tricky triad at any time! And this year, with all the post-election processing, it may be especially challenging to manage everyone around the table.  So, how can you keep marriage, politics and Thanksgiving from undoing each other?  How can you keep political tensions at the table from ruining your carefully basted Turkey?

First, focus on the basics when it comes to communication skills.  That means be a super skilled listener and speaker.  When listening, hard as it may  be, find something that makes sense about what the other person is saying.  No question that can be a challenge if you’re seated next to a friend or family member whose politics are diametrically opposed to yours, and at the same time, listen hard and think carefully as there almost always is a core kernel one can agree with in any political opinion.

At the same time, be careful when speaking.  It’s easy to generalize and talk in a way that assumes others share your perspectives.  Express your opinions as just that, your opinions.  Stick to “I” statements.  Be wary of accidentally including others by saying things like “we need to,” or “our country would be better if . . . ”  A simple, “I believe in” or “I’m worried that. . . ” will be less likely to evoke a defensive response.

Power of Two coaches have many more tips on how to talk and listen to avoid marriage problems.

Likewise, you might want to check out our founder Dr. Heitler’s thoughts on how to cope with the post election blues if you’re struggling to make sense of the election (or if you have family who is less than thrilled).

One more tip that’s sure to work if things are really tense at your table.  Focus on the food!  For one day, put politics aside and enjoy everyone’s cooking.  Feel thankful for all that is in front of you and keep the conversation there as well.

Happy holidays!

Marriage Problems and Paddle Ball . . . Really?

It may sound a bit far fetched, that said if you’re facing marriage problems, paddle ball may be just the sport for you!

Side note:  We went to the beach today for a little end of season visit.  As the weather was getting chilly, there weren’t to many swimmers, but kites, paddle ball and frisbee tossing were all the rage.

So, back to paddle ball.  We were sitting next to a young couple who clearly loved paddle ball.  Plink, plink, plink, plink went their little ball back and forth, forth and back.

Distracted from my book, I started to think about marriage problems and what could be learned from this couple’s plink, plink plinking.  Here’s a few of my musings.

  1. Keep track of how many in a row you two can get together.  Marriage problems only get worse if you keep score about who did what wrong.  If you want to assign a score, count how many “hits” you get together.  Can you do 5 conversation turns and keep it happy?  20?  A whole day?
  2. Pick a pace that’s nice for both of you.  It was clear the guy in this couple could have hit the ball a lot harder. And he didn’t.  He went for enjoying the game together instead of smashing every ball.  Same in marriage.  Marriage problems can take some time to sort out.  Find a pace that works for both of you.
  3. Enjoy each others company.  That’s the real reason to play paddle ball — it’s a fun thing to do on the beach together.  Marriage help goes the same way.  It often is best to try to start with remembering how to have some fun together.
  4. Be active.  OK, so I was glued to my beach chair all day.  And, I could see how nice it was for the paddle ballers to be actively moving around.  When facing marriage problems be active about learning new skills.  And literally, be active too – – amazing how more effective conversations sometimes are while walking around the block.

Dr. Heitler Featured in LHJ’s Can This Marriage Be Saved

She’s at it again.  Yes, saving marriages — while that happens everyday around here, it’s always fun when the story is told in a broader way.

Dr. Heitler and a gracious couple have shared the story of how this couple, with some first rate help and skills, rescued their marriage.  The couple came to Dr. Heitler because their sexless marriage needed help.  The wife’s chronic pain condition further complicated the matter.  When she discovered him using a porn website she realized it was time for a serious lesson in how to communicate with your spouse if they wanted to save the marriage.

Read the whole happy story here.

Be unrealistically happy???

Of course, everyone wants a happier marriage — even if one’s marriage is pretty darn good!

So, the punch line on a recently released study is that the less realistic you are the better it is for your marriage. They key, is to be unrealistically positive about your spouse. Love their flaws. Idolize their strengths. Go ahead, put em’ on a pedestal.

Here’s the link to the article —

And here’s a link to a great way to get less realistic. This activity is a five message text or e-mail (choose when you sign up) that will help get you thinking positive thoughts about your mate!

Hard as it can be. . . happy, happy and happier.

— Dr. Hirsch

ps Just want to add that, of course, when a spouse is totally out-of-bounds a more realistic approach is most certainly called for!

Psych Central just posted an article about communication pitfalls featuring Power of Two founder Dr. Susan Heitler.

Here’s the top 5 pitfalls list.

  1. Not knowing the rules
  2. Aiming for compromise
  3. Playing pin the tail on the donkey
  4. Letting escalating emotions take over
  5. Thinking that marriage is like walking

Got you curious? Here’s the article.

Want the good news?  You can learn how to communicate like a pro with a Power of Two Online membership.

Moved to tears. . .

I was moved to tears listening to this Story Core piece on National Public Radio about a couple who couldn’t get their marriage to work, divorced and then realized that they truly were destined for each other.

Click here to listen to the story (and the audio is WAY better than the transcription!)

At Power of Two we believe in divorcing yourself from a marriage that isn’t working. Paper work free :).

Just decide that from today forwards you’re done with the old ways of doing things, and then start fresh with the same spouse you had the good sense to marry in the first place. Then use to get your new marriage off to a great start!

Power of Two in Your Sleep???

Couldn’t resist sharing this lovely comment from a Power of Two Online member (with her permission of course!).

Her coach asked her, “when are you thinking about the skills you’re using?”

Her response:

Actually, I dreamt about it!   I caught myself saying something inappropriate and in my head (dream), I said to myself, this needs to be reframed.

Now that’s when you know you’ve learned a new skill!

Our stressed out kids

This morning I took my kids to Starbucks for breakfast because our kitchen sink is totally clogged, sigh.

My third grader noticed the NYT front page with this headline:

Record Level of Stress Found in College Freshmen.

“Why are they all so stressed out?” he wanted to know.

The article does a great job of explaining why.

What is missing is the piece of what you can do to foster resilience in your children.  It may be little surprise that my first answers is . .  .build a happy, healthy marriage.  In other words, model great relationships with a passion for life to your kids.

After that, here are a few other tips.

  • Demand that your children pursue passions instead of trying to impress college admissions officers. Seriously, even in high school, it’s more helpful to talk with your child about finding things that they love to do and doing them than about building a well-rounded application.  This way, when your child gets into an appropriate-for-them school, they’ll have things they love doing to help them stay solidly on their feet.
  • Model a healthy lifestyle and help your child build one too. Find fun ways to make exercise part of your routine.  Replace screen-time with face-to-face time.  Cook healthy food together.  Building routines like these will cultivate a life-rhythm that is resilient in the face of stress.
  • Share stressful news and finances on an as-needed and as-appropriate basis. Your twelve year old probably does not need to know that it was a struggle to pay the mortgage this month.  Sharing these details is likely to cultivate a general tendency to feel stress and anxiety, when it’s more appropriate to be helping her learn to take tests at school without panicking.  At the same time, a child heading to college does need to have you talk through a rock-solid financial plan for how they will handle their portion of any loans.   Likewise, direct information about how you will be helping and not-helping to finance their education is critical.
  • Eat dinners together. Having regular, real family time is one of the best ways to make sure your kids feel supported.  Then hopefully, they’ll call you when college is just feeling like too much, instead of swimming alone in a pool of stress.