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EM: How does this differ from relation- ship within families, such as couples who have children?


JR: I think it uses the same principles. In both cases, the key is to build trust. I like the parent-as-consultant model. If our goal is to train healthy, independent adults (as opposed to people who just do what we tell them to do), I think it is great to tell the child, “Okay — I see this is a problem you need to work out. I’m here for you, and if you need any help, if you have any ques- tions, just ask.” If they fall on their faces, you just empathize. If you work to become a really good parent, it will definitely trick- le into your other relationships. The prob- lem I see is when individuals try to control others, either spouses or children. Trying to control somebody else is a vote of no confidence, no trust.


EM: So, what can happy couples who have young families do to keep the airplane flying?


JR: Date nights. Investing in the relation- ship. Investing in little romantic things to keep the fire going. An exercise I some- times do with couples is to suggest they make a “Caring Behaviors List,” a list all of the things their partner can do to make them feel cared for. They don’t talk about it, but just exchange lists, and then actively try to do some of the things that make their partner happy. Mainly, I think that couples with kids can remember that everything flows from the nucleus of the marriage. Good parenting will trickle from that, too.


EM: Any good advice for couples around Valentine’s Day?


JR: I try to avoid giving advice. It may come back to haunt me if they try it and it doesn’t work. My job is to try to create an environment where they can talk openly and challenge ideas, take ownership. The whole idea is for each person in a family to gain independence and live good lives on their own.


JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2013 | 43


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