|1. Tell us about yourself.|
I'm a clinical psychologist with a Ph.D. degree in psychology from the
University of California at Santa Barbara. I've been married to Joyce,
the love of my life, for 40 years, and we have two children who work
with me as marriage counselors, and four grandchildren who will probably
also be marriage counselors some day.
For the past 35 years, my mission in life has been to save marriages. My
advantage over most other marriage counselors is that I have been
unrelenting in following up on couples I've counseled to see if my
advice actually saved their marriage. I'm a skeptic at heart, and it
takes a lot to convince me that counselors, myself included, really do
any good. Most counselors do not really know whether or not their
therapy works because they lose track of their clients. But I knew I was
ineffective for the first five years after earning my Ph.D. degree
because I checked back to find most of my couples divorced. After
discovering through research reports and first-hand experience that
almost all marriage counselors were ineffective in saving marriages, I
went to work on an entirely new approach. It proved to be very
successful even after decades of follow-up. Instead of focusing on
communication skills, I focused on creating and maintaining romantic
love in marriage. It's what had made my own marriage so successful, so I
should have known better. Yet it took me several years to overcome the
bias from the professional training I'd received that taught me to teach
communication skills. Once my focus had changed, I became an instant
success, and can now claim tens of thousands of saved marriages.
|2. What can couples do right now to renew their love for one another?|
The simplest answer is for couples to meet each other's intimate
emotional needs (affection, intimate conversation, sexual fulfillment,
and recreational companionship) at least 15 hours a week. That's the
quickest way to deposit the most love units. But if a couple has fallen
out of love, they don't feel like meeting each other's intimate
emotional needs. Instead, they feel that other objectives in life are
more important. So once couples drift out of love, they rarely do what
it takes to restore that love, especially after children arrive. My
solution to the problem is to schedule 15 hours each week to meet
intimate emotional needs whether or not a couple feel like doing that.
When they follow my advice, it doesn't take very long before their love
is restored, and that 15 hours becomes their most valued and protected
time of the week.
|3. How can couples get over their awkwardness during a “date” as they
relearn how to replenish one another’s “Love Units”?|
Those who feel the most awkward about "dating" have usually lost passion
in their marriage. They no longer feel the chemistry they once felt
toward each other -- they're no longer in love. But if they ignore the
initial awkwardness, and do a good job meeting each other's needs for
affection, intimate conversation, sexual fulfillment, and recreational
companionship, they eventually rediscover their passion and love for
each other. After that, no awkwardness remains.
|4. What do you tell couples that convinces them that they need to spend
more time together?|
The meeting of intimate emotional needs takes time and privacy. Without
them, a couple is left with a loveless marriage, and that often leads to
infidelity and divorce. People marry each other expecting their
emotional needs to be met, and when they are not met, disappointment
turns to resentment, and resentment often turns into marital failure.
But the time it takes to sustain a romantic relationship is rather brief
-- only fifteen hours a week. With 112 total waking hours, surely a
couple can find time to do what they both expected of each other.
|5. According to your books, you recommend that couples spend between 15
and 30 hours per week of undivided attention with one another to meet
each other’s emotional needs. How does a dual income couple with
children and 40-hour per week jobs manage to do that, without taking any
Anything more than 15 hours is required only of those whose marriage is
in danger of immediate collapse. When love units must be deposited
quickly, I recommend as much time together as possible to eliminate the
risk of divorce. But it only takes 15 hours a week to recreate love in
marriage if you can afford to take a few months to do it. And then 15
hours is all it takes to sustain it indefinitely.
There are 7 24-hour days in a week, giving each couple 168 total hours.
With 8 hours of sleep a night, they have 112 remaining. Most couples can
get ready for work in the morning and get ready for bed at night in
about 12 hours, leaving 100 hours for everything else that's important.
Assuming a 50 hour work-week, there are another 50 hours left for all
other priorities. A couple's highest priority should be their 15 hours
together to meet intimate emotional needs. The next highest priority
should be 15 hours spent together as a family for quality family time.
That leaves 20 hour each week for everything else that needs to be done,
including time to sit in front of the television to watch your favorite
show. The time to build love for each other is available in every
|6. When training children, you mention that “punishment should decrease
with age.” Explain how that works, especially for couples who already
It goes without saying that child training methods must change with
their age. You simply cannot use the same methods with pre-school
children that you use with teenagers. But many parents do just that.
They punish their teenage children as if they were pre-school age. That
usually leads to very undesirable results.
Punishment is known to be very effective in pre-school years and yet
very ineffective in teen years. Parents who try to punish their teenage
children discover that it creates rebellion rather than obedience. Teens
who are grounded as a form of punishment often run away from home, or
even attempt suicide. And teens who are yelled at or spanked often
respond back to their parents with the same abuse. What works best for
teens is lots of time spent with parents, coupled with open discussion
about the value of appropriate behavior. If parents are connected to
their teens, and have been consistent in their training when their
children were pre-teens, the teen years are a lot less bumpy.
|7. You bring up the idea of eighteen-year-olds living on their own, that
to live at home beyond that age “gives them a very unrealistic view of
money.” What would you say of children still living at home, but paying
rent to parents?|
This is a very controversial issue, and was raised in the context of a
teenager who was making home-life intolerable for parents. In general, I
think that eighteen-year-olds should be on their own, but there are
important exceptions that should be considered by parents.
The "rent" idea is usually flawed. For one thing, the rent isn't usually
realistic, and it often isn't even paid. Besides, most children who have
been raised rent-free usually resent having to pay anything. An 18 year
old usually wants to be considered an adult, and make decisions without
parental interference, so I encourage parents to give them that freedom,
but also the responsibility that goes along with it. Training for that
moment of independence should begin in early teen years, however, so
that the separation is prepared for and expected. There are exceptions
to everything, however, and circumstances may dictate the wisdom of
living at home longer than planned, or even return home after an
unsuccessful attempt at independence. However, a teen should realize
that their time at home after 18 is for emergencies only, and they
should be on their very best behavior in those times of need.
|8. Do you have any future projects in the works?|
I am planning to publish a workbook to accompany “His Needs, Her Needs