Specializing in Couples and Relationship Issues. A Research Based Approach to Creating Happiness in Love and Life

“If we all did the things we were capable of, we would literally astound ourselves!” – Thomas Edison

If you are like me, you want to GET STARTED NOW!
Information, articles, books, questionnaires, assessments, tools and helpful links are available below!


Ask yourself these questions

  • Are you prepared to be non defensive?
  • Are you open to seeing things a new way?
  • Are you open to recognizing your role in your life or relationship problems?
  • Are you on a spiritual path or striving to grow and be a better person?
  • Are you willing to take initiative to educate yourself through books, insight, talk, awareness, and feedback?
  • Are you willing to be honest about your faults and shortcomings?
  • Are you willing to be gentle on yourself and your partner for having faults and not being perfect?
  • Are you willing to see how your actions were hurtful and may have caused pain to another? And to yourself?
  • Are you willing to eventually forgive yourself and your partner for being imperfect?
  • Are you committed to honest self-inventory, both morally and spiritually?
  • Are you willing to feel uncomfortable at times?
  • Are you willing to heal and recover wholeness?


Here are some of my favorites, listed by topic. . There are some oldies but goodies in the mix – and of course, the list is nowhere near exhaustive.


  • Hold Me Tight – Sue Johnson
  • Attached – Levine & Heller
  • Wired For Love  – Stan Tatkin


  • Mindsight: The New Science of Transformation – Daniel Siegel
  • Wired For Love  – Stan Tatkin
  • The Male Brain – Louann Brizendine
  • The Female Brain – Louann Brizendine
  • Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom – Rick Hanson


My Favorite Vision:

  • Kindred Spirit – Matthew & Terces Englehart

Other great Books:

  • The Mastery of Love – Miguel Ruiz
  • Act With Love – Russ Harris
  • A Conscious Person’s Guide to Relationships – Ken Keyes, Jr.


All of the books listed below are written by John Gottman.

Gottman’s latest book:

  • What Makes Love Last?
    How to build trust and avoid betrayal.

On Marriage & Relationship:

  • 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage
  • The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work
  • Why Marriages Succeed or Fail
  • The Relationship Cure
  • The Science of Trust

On Parenting:

  • And Baby Makes Three
  • Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child
  • What Am I Feeling? (for use with children)


  • Beyond Happiness: The Zen Way to True Contentment – Ezra Bayda
  • Enjoy Life: Healing with Happiness – Lynn Johnson
  • Authentic Happiness – Martin Seligman
  • Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind & Life – Martin Seligman
  • The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want -  Sonja Lyubimursky
  • How We Choose To Be Happy -  Foster & Hicks
  • Well Being Cards – Esther & Gerry Hicks


On Diet:

  • The Glucose Revolution – Brand-Miller, Wolever, Colagiuri, Foster-Powell
  • The Glycemic Load Diet – Rob Thompson
  • Healthy At 100 – John Robbins
  • Staying Healthy With The Seasons – Elson Haas
  • The Yeast Connection – William Crook

On Hormones:

  • Feeling Fat, Fuzzy or Frazzled? – Richard & Karilee Shames
  • Thyroid Power – Richard & Karilee Shames
  • The Miracle of Bio-Identical Hormones – Michael Platt


  • The Miracle of Mindfulness – Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Mindfulness to Go: How to Meditate When You Are On the Move – David Harp
  • Get Out of Your Mind & Into Your Life – Steven Hayes
  • Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Practice At A Time – Rick Hanson
  • Love is Letting Go of Fear – Gerry Jampolsky
  • Handbook to Higher Consciousness – Ken Keys, Jr.


There are a lot of great books on sexuality.  I’ve listed some of the basics that introduce couples to techniques, largely developed and presented in an instructive mode through the Tantric tradition.  While you may not embrace the entire tantric philosophy, you can learn a lot – alone or with your partner – about the full range of experience and pleasure that is possible. There are plenty of exercises you can experiment with at home.  Cultivate your curiosity – learn something new and experiment! Check out the Gottman’s website devoted to sexuality: www.gottsex.com

Tantric Tradition:

  • The Art of Sexual Ecstasy – Margo Anand
  • The Multi-Orgasmic Couple – Chia & Abrams
  • Tantra: The Art of Conscious Loving – Charles & Caroline Muir
  • Urban Tantra – Barbara Carrellas

A Little Racy & Visually Explicit:

  • The Bedside Kama Sutra – Linda Sonntag
  • The Art of Oral Sex – Ian & Alicia Denchasy (for both sexes!)
  • XXX Sex…….Tonight! – Anne Hooper
  • Sex Secrets of Escort’s – Veronica Monet

Other topics:

  • Sex & Love at Midlife: It’s Better Than Ever – Bernie & George Zilbergeld
  • The Wonderful Little Sex Book – William Ashoka Ross


  • Anything by John Gottman
  • Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life – Marshall Rosenberg
  • Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion – Carol Tavris
  • Get On The Peace Train – Lynn Johnson
  • Love Is Letting Go of Fear – Gerald Jampolsky
  • When Love Meets Fear – David Richo



A great exercise for clearing and transforming resentment involves the opposite of blame! Find freedom from the past, peace within and reclaim power by working with the following phrases. Take 10-15 minutes and write your answers to each of the following questions. Relax, dig deep and write down everything that comes to your mind without censoring.

I take 100% responsibility for:

  • my choice to…..
  • my resistance to….
  • my acceptance of…..
  • my participation in…….
  • my failure to….



Why is increasing self-awareness the main task of therapy?

Without self-awareness, it is difficult to truly transform your experience into healthy behavior. No matter what your goals are (and I hope happiness and flourishing in your life and relationships are among those goals) self-awareness helps you recognize that you have the power to direct your mind, your thoughts, your actions in ways that generate happiness in every area of your life.

Monitoring your experience

Self-awareness is the ability to monitor your experience – that is, your thoughts, emotions and your physical sensations – in the moment you are having them. Why is this so important? Awareness gives you the ability to recognize failing patterns, change course and take control of creating new behavior towards the experiences you want to have.


Growth requires both introspection and self-awareness. But how do you DO that? There are many methods, but the main requirement is time. Growth requires a minimum of 5 minutes to 1 hour or more a day monitoring your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and behaviors in order to increase self awareness and later, apply more choice in where and how you direct your thoughts and actions. The choice is yours. The more time you spend paying attention and reflecting on your inner experience, the faster your growth and development progress. Once you learn the essential task of intentional awareness, you can practice increasing awareness anytime, anywhere throughout your entire day. The result? Experiencing life from a point of ever increasing mindful awareness and choice!

Happiness can be cultivated

I find it exciting that research in the field of Positive Psychology, Happiness and Psychology in general, show over and over again that optimism can be learned, that 40-50% of our experience is LEARNED!


Click here to listen to listen to a moving Ted Talks Lecture on Vulnerability by Brené Brown.


Transformation takes hard work! Be radical! Be determined to see results!

    • Growth takes consistent, daily effort to see results – just like going to the gym.
    • Prepare for and accept this fact
    • Mentally decide to commit
    • Expect 1-2 years of focus to see foundational vs. superficial changes
    • The goal is to become aware of behavioral patterns and limiting beliefs that hold you back. This requires you to see and sense what you currently do not see-followed by adopting new behaviors and thoughts that are in alignment with, and will facilitate, the new attitudes, behaviors and experience you seek.
    • Expose yourself to new ideas and information: psychologically, spiritually and scientifically
    • Read books
    • Take workshops
    • Go to lectures
    • Get a therapist or coach
    • Get involved with spiritually based and self help material, even if you reject it later
    • Meditate
    • Journal
    • Actively think and reflect
    • Devote time every day, 20 minutes minimum – more is better
    • Talk with others who are involved with their growth
    • Become familiar with your negative feelings:
      anger, sadness, fear, loss, loneliness, worthlessness, helplessness, anxiety, unloveableness, shame…
    • Learn to tolerate and sit with your discomfort until you no longer feel the need to resist, escape or ease the tension – once you can you are well on your way to real growth and freedom – this is half the battle!
    • Learn to accept these feelings – they are your work out, your opportunity to grow
    • Spend several hours using tools, thoughts and reflections to learn about what is unseen
    • Make lists – identify and write down: thoughts, beliefs, triggers feelings, reactions, behaviors what you really wanted to happen, unmet needs underlying, often hidden & censored vulnerabilities, hurt and fear … for example:
      • worthlessness
      • abandonment
      • inadequacy
      • unlovableness
      • guilt and shame
      • self loathing
    • Make more lists – identify and write down:
      • your strengths
      • qualities you like about yourself
      • gifts & talents you have
      • things you appreciate in your life
    • Work with resentments by working with the following statement:
      I take 100% responsibility for my decision to …
      (list everything you regret, feel victimized or resentful about)
      Some examples might be:
      “I take 100% responsibility for …â€

      • staying in an unhappy or abusive relationship too long
      • not getting help
      • not standing up for myself
      • accepting too little money/love/respect
      • giving without getting enough in return
      • saying Yes when I meant No!
      • spending/eating/gambling
      • staying in a job that makes me unhappy
      • not looking for another job
      • settling, giving up, giving in
    • write it down
    • dream BIG!
    • feel it in every fiber of your being
    • concentrate and focus on your goals every day
    • consciously use fear, doubt, worry as triggers to turn your thoughts around in that exact moment
    • don’t give up until you succeed in remembering your wholeness in that exact moment
    • focus on your dreams, goals, strengths and positive attributes
    • notice how directing attention on your dreams, goals and positive attributes generates positive feelings and a sense of well being!
    • repetitively practice turning your attention to where you are going rather than what you fear
    • practice makes perfect, repetition builds strength and fire – just like going to the gym, it gets easier, more rewarding and more empowering every time you turn your thoughts around from feeling bad to feeling even an incremental degree of feeling better. Every time you do this, it is like lifting weights at the gym, one rep at a time. Every time you do this, you are growing and becoming the change you seek.


By Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.

For some people, this is a truly radical idea: There is no need to fight with your partner. Ever. Accusations, recriminations, character assassination, threats, name-calling, and cursing, whether delivered at top volume or with a quiet sarcastic sneer, damage a relationship, often irrevocably. Nobody needs to be a monster or to be treated monstrously. Nobody who yells will ever be heard. In the heat of a moment, it is always a choice whether to go for a run or run your partner down.

On the other hand, no two people in the world, no matter how made for each other they feel,. will ever agree about everything at all times (It would be quite boring if they did). Couples do need to be able to negotiate differences. They do need to have room for constructive criticism. They do need a way to assert opinions and to disagree. And they do need to have a way to express intense feelings (that the other person may not understand or support) without feeling that they will be judged as lacking for doing so.

A healthy relationship requires knowing the skills necessary for “friendly fighting†— dealing with conflict respectfully and working together to find a workable solution. Friendly fighting means working out differences that matter. It means engaging passionately about things we feel passionate about, without resorting to hurting one another. It helps us let off steam without getting burned. Friendly fighting lets us “fight†and still stay friends.

Couples in mature, healthy relationships seem intuitively to understand the notion of friendly fighting. Some people have been fortunate enough to grow up in families where their parents modeled how to disagree without being disagreeable. Others were so horrified by the way their folks treated each other that they refuse to repeat the behavior in their own relationships. Most couples, though, learn the art of friendly fighting by working it out together and supporting each other in staying in close relationship even when differences mystify, frustrate, and upset them. Most come up with stated or unstated rules for engagement that are surprisingly similar.

Below are some tips to ensure that conflicts will strengthen your marriage instead of harm it.

10 RULES FOR FRIENDLY FIGHTING: or how to ensure that conflicts will strengthen your marriage instead of harm it.

  1. Embrace conflict. There is no need to fear it. Conflict is normal, even healthy. Differences between you mean that there are things you can learn from each other. Often conflict shows us where we can or need to grow.
  2. Go after the issue, not each other. Friendly fighting sticks with the issue. Neither party resorts to name calling or character assassination. It’s enough to deal with the problem without adding the new problem of hurting each other’s feelings.
  3. Listen respectfully. When people feel strongly about something, it’s only fair to hear them out. Respectful listening means acknowledging their feelings, either verbally or through focused attention. It means never telling someone that he or she “shouldn’t†feel that way. It means saving your point of view until after you’ve let the other person know you understand that they feel intensely about the subject, even if you don’t quite get it.
  4. Talk softly. The louder someone yells, the less likely they are to be heard. Even if your partner yells, there’s no need to yell back. Taking the volume down makes it possible for people to start focusing on the issues instead of reacting to the noise.
  5. Get curious, not defensive. Defending yourself, whether by vehemently protesting your innocence or rightness or by turning the tables and attacking, escalates the fight. Instead of upping the ante, ask for more information, details, and examples. There is usually some basis for the other person’s complaint. When you meet a complaint with curiosity, you make room for understanding.
  6. Ask for specifics. Global statements that include the words “always†and “never†almost always get you nowhere and never are true. When your partner has complaints, ask to move from global comments of exasperation to specific examples so you can understand exactly what he or she is talking about. When you have complaints, do your best to give your partner examples to work with.
  7. Find points of agreement. There almost always are parts of a conflict that can be points of agreement. Finding common ground, even if it’s agreeing that there is a problem, is an important start to finding a common solution.
  8. Look for options. Fighting ends when cooperation begins. Asking politely for suggestions or alternatives invites collaboration. Careful consideration of options shows respect. Offering alternatives of your own shows that you also are willing to try something new.
  9. Make concessions. Small concessions can turn the situation around. If you give a little, it makes room for the other person to make concessions too. Small concessions lead to larger compromises. Compromise doesn’t have to mean that you’re meeting each other exactly 50-50. Sometimes it’s a 60-40 or even 80-20 agreement. This isn’t about scorekeeping. It’s about finding a solution that is workable for both of you.
  10. Make peace. An elderly friend who has been married for 68 years tells me that she and her husband made a rule on their wedding day never to go to bed angry. They agreed from the outset that the relationship is more important than winning arguments. Sometimes this meant they stayed up very, very late until they came to a workable compromise. Sometimes it meant that one or the other of them decided the issue wasn’t really important enough to lose sleep over. Since they both value the marriage, neither one gave in or gave up most of the time. When one did give in or give up, the other showed appreciation and made a peace offering of his or her own. These folks still love each other after 68 years of the inevitable conflicts that come with living with another person. They are probably onto something.