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FACE 2 FACE


Jay Robertson, PhD


As a wink to Valentine’s Day, one Eagle Magazine writer sits down with a local marriage counselor to unearth secrets to successful relationships.


of effort involved in getting it off the ground — the props or jet engines are working hard to defeat inertia and gravity and achieve flight. But it’s not as obvious that once the plane is in the air, much effort is required to keep it in flight. The same goes for mar- riage. Most people are willing to put in the effort up front, during the honeymoon phase, but after a few years the effort tends to die out. It’s important to keep pouring effort into the relationship, regardless of how long it’s been flying.


By Elisabeth


Sharp McKetta PHOTO BY


Brett Saffery


For 16 years, Dr. Jay Robertson has provided coun- seling for marriages and families. The Eagle-based therapist is interested in the creative arts, too: He hosts a monthly art group for kids that meets in Rembrandt Café, and during our interview he gave me the gift of a zebra-patterned rock he had painted. A former engineer who returned to school for psychology after being told again and again what a wonderful listener he was, Dr. Robertson speaks to Eagle Magazine about what he has learned from years of family counseling experience.


EM: What is your overall philosophy of a happy marriage?


JR: A metaphor I use is how marriage is like flying an airplane. When the plane is taking off, there is lots


42 | www.eaglemagazine.com


EM: So, how can you tell a relationship that is likely to keep flying high from one that won’t?


JR: The relationships that keep improving are ones in which each individual takes ownership of how they themselves are contributing to the issues. In oth- er words, each person identifies and focuses on man- aging the issues and barriers she or he is bringing to the relationship. This requires “self-focus” rather than “other-focus,” which can be a challenge. Many people come into therapy blaming situations, other people, family members, etcetera, for the problems they are experiencing — that is “other-focus.” In self- focus, the individual works to see that their partner’s behavior is due in part, sometimes in large part, to what they themselves are doing. The bravest thing in a relationship is for each person to say, “Okay, I’m going to stop focusing on what they are doing and work on myself.”


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