PsychotherapyHELP News

By Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D., MFCC



Sizzling Relationships & Ecstatic Marriages


It is hard to believe that millions of people get married every single day and very few of them have ever learned the fundamentals of marriage. It is a common truth that you cannot master anything until you learn the basic fundamentals. Yet, in our culture, we do not provide an effective vehicle for coaching people on how to successfully navigate the mysterious waters of fulfilling marital relationships. We leave such matters to chance.

What if I were to tell you that you could learn the basic fundamentals of marriage, guaranteeing that you will achieve the utmost of satisfaction from a relationship made in heaven? Would you believe me? I can hear the cynics saying, "Oh, Come on!" But, you can have the most ecstatic marital relationship just by following the basic fundamentals of my “Sizzling Relationships/Ecstatic Marriages” Program.

Tip of the Day:  Time is Money

Sizzling relationships depend on extended time spent nurturing, caring and loving one another. Nobody wants to lose and accumulate losses. As in business, sports and other activities, marriage follows the same rule:  Everybody Wants to Win.

Tip #1: Uninterrupted Attention

Sometimes it is very difficult to discover effective strategies for many areas of life. But, a weekly commitment to schedule in Uninterrupted Attention is a sure winner. Time is your # 1 asset and your marriage has to be your # 1 priority. Don't squeeze it in between your other activities! It is the centerfold around which all of your other activities must revolve.

Your partner and your marriage must come first, otherwise you and your partner will deplete the Love Fund and kill the relationship. I tell you this, because it is easy and very common to turn a Love Fund into a Hate Fund.

The Sizzling Relationships/Ecstatic Marriages Program takes the guesswork out of building and maintaining sizzling marriages by providing very powerful and specific guidelines.  Remember, everybody wants to win and be a winner in their relationships


Building Intimacy: Mutual Empathy


A wonderful tool to deepen intimacy in your relationship is mutual empathy. Mutual empathy occurs in those relationships and marriages where both partners recognize and commit themselves to fulfilling one another's needs. Constructive conversations are the norm and each person fully understands and empathizes with the other person's feelings and needs. Nothing is left to guesswork.

There are no unilateral decisions that are made without the full knowledge and consent of the partner. Everything is open for discussion and both partners are committed to understanding and fulfilling one another's emotional needs. Decisions are postponed until there is gratifying mutual consent. This forces the couple to brainstorm conversations that seek innovative solutions.

In this stage, listening and expressive skills are functioning optimally. One does not go against the wishes and the emotional needs of the other. Partners are committed to making each other fully happy. They adhere to the rule: "Your happiness and your welfare are my greatest concerns." No one attempts to make themselves happy and fulfilled at the expense of the other. There is a constant monitoring of the other person's needs and wishes. Mutual empathy implies that both people are fully committed to understanding the other person's feelings and needs. As stated before, satisfying mutual consent is the main policy for people who have attained mutual empathy in their relationships.

The benefits of mutual empathy and satisfying mutual consent?… better communication, genuine caring and concern, deeper levels of trust, and broader base of intimacy for the relationship to continue growing.


When Empathy Fails: Developing Communication Skills


Certain communication styles build intimacy. Other types of communication can create withdrawals of love. What you say and how you say it, has a profound effect on whether you build or deplete your partner's Love Reservoir. In fact, inattention to communication can lead to such grave interpersonal snafus, that divorce seems to be the only answer. Poor communication skills eventually lead to relationship failure, unless you discover what works and what does not work.

So, what is the answer? The answer lies in you and your partner's ability to analyze your communication skills and tools. Every relationship has its own unique communication system and needs to be examined as such. Each person in a relationship has communication quirks, snafus, strengths and weaknesses. The problem with examining a relationship communication system is that individuals experience their own communication skills as being functional. After all, I know exactly what I am saying and what I mean by what I say. It's you that is confusing the issue. Therefore, I need to enter into a state of conflict with you, in order to straighten out your faulty communication style. Are you getting the point here? Actually, it does not matter who is right or wrong. It's what works that counts! So, if you wish to build a hot relationship, you may have to seriously examine your own and your partner's communication skills and tools.

At times, nonverbal communication is more important than the actual content of the message. You will have to pay strict attention to the content and volume of speech. The content, itself, conveys information, creates emotional reactions and cognitive activities that contribute or detract from the conversation. For example, a person may convey a content message that feels hostile. So, what is being conveyed? It's usually the hostility and perhaps the real message may get lost.

Pessimism, arrogance, self-centeredness, humorlessness, gloom, anxious, preachiness, distrustful, hostile and angry intonations don't work if you are trying to build a powerful Love account. Blaming, finger-pointing, accusing, labeling, categorizing, lying, excessively rapid or labored speech, mumbling, bragging, selling and circuitous speech should be avoided at all costs. These last categories of conversational methods are ineffective. In fact, they will deplete the Love Fund and turn it into a Hate account. Developing clear and empathic communication skills will prevent that from happening.


About Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D., MFCC

PsychotherapyHELP was created in response to overwhelming requests for information about Dr. Hannig's therapy programs and publications. Through the web site, Dr. Hannig's published article excerpts, books, therapy information, and self-help products are available to all. Therapy sessions, once confined to a local private practice, now span the continent with Telephone Therapy ... bringing the best of Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D. to the world.


Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D.  is a licensed California Marriage and Family Therapist and holds certification with the National Academy of Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselors and the National Board of Certified Counselors, and is a member of the California Association for Marriage and Family Therapists. He specializes in (but not limited to) mood, anxiety and personality disorders, depression, phobias, adult survivors of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, relationship conflicts, psychosis, deep feeling therapy and core identity work. His therapy model is experiential, psychoanalytical, and integrative, combining an individual, interactional and multi-generational approach to treatment. In addition to private practice, he has made his expertise available to people everywhere via his Telephone Therapy Program.

Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D. MFCC * * * 818-882-7404