Episode 14: Dr. Terri Orbuch: A Visit with the Love Doctor

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This episode Chip visits with Dr. Terri Orbuch, a.k.a. "The Love Doctor". Nationally known research scientist at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, psychologist, and Oakland University professor, author of 5 books on relationship, Dr. Terri Orbuch has studied the marriage and divorce and romance and relationship patterns of thousands of individuals nationwide for over 20 years. Listen in as Dr. Terri shares the insights from her decades-long study of hundreds of couples. Dr. Terri has great insights into the keys to successful relationships, and unlike so many in the field, she has the research to back up her ideas. Our interview covers Dr. Terri's wisdom a bout how to recreate passion in a long term relationship; what to do to re-establish trust when one partner lies to or cheats on their spouse; and, how to keep conflict from tearing relationships apart. And don't miss our end-segment where you'll learn an exercise you can practice at home to improve your own relationship. More details on this episode go to http://personallifemedia.com/podcasts/sex-love-intimacy/episode014-terri-orbuch-the-love-doctor.html

Transcript

Dr. Terri Orbuch: A Visit with the Love Doctor

Announcer:  This program is intended for mature audiences only.

[Music]

Chip August:  Welcome to Sex, Love and Intimacy.  I’m your host, Chip August and today on the show we’re going to be talking about love and romance, and we’re going to be talking about marriage.  We’re going to be talking about divorce and we’re going to be talking about trust, passion, and conflict.  It’s a full schedule here.  We’re talking with Dr. Terri Orbuch. 

Dr. Terri is known as he Love Doctor.  I love that title, the Love Doctor.  I want that title.  Dr. Terri is a nationally known research scientist and she’s an expert on romance, marriage, and divorce. 

Welcome Dr. Terri.

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Thank you very much Chip.  Great to be here.

Chip August:  I really appreciate you taking time out from your day to talk with us.  Dr. Terri’s the author of five books on relationships.  She’s a research scientist at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, and a family and marriage therapist and somewhat of an expert and today that’s what we’re going to be talking about. 

Dr. Terri’s been doing some research about marriage, romance, and divorce, and has some really interesting ideas about trust and how to get it back when a relationship loses it, and about passion and how to keep it alive and recreate it, and also some ideas on how to deal with conflict in relationships.  So, I think we’re in for a great show.

Now, you’re research, I really want to start there because I’m just fascinated by this.  Can you tell me a little about the research that you’re doing?

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Sure.  It’s a long term study on marriage and divorce.  We started out with about 380 couples, all who got married in 1986 and we’ve been following them for probably the last 22 years now and we’re really interested in what keeps people together and what breaks them apart.  When they divorce, how do they adjust, cope, the effects on kids, who re-partners.  All kinds of things.  And my favorite topic Chip, is what’s important to women, and what’s important to men in their relationships.

Chip August:  Wow.  That is great.  So, now when you say you’ve been following them, what does that mean?

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Well, I always say we because you’ve got 380 couples, that’s 746, 750 individuals.  I cannot do it alone.  I have a wonderful team of researchers, graduate students, who help me as well.  But, we interview the couples and the individuals every other year.  We ask them questions about their marriage, about their lives, their work, their children, what interests them, their leisure activities, what brings them joy.  A whole host of questions and it’s face to face interviews with each individual.  And then, if the couple stays married, with the couple as well. 

Chip August:  Where did you find these people?

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Well, these are a random or a representative good sample group of individuals, all who applied for marriage licenses in 1986, in a county surrounding the University of Michigan.  So, we have a really good sample and all people got married in 1986.

Chip August:  Ok.  Now, here’s the big question.  I’m sure it’s the first question everybody wants to know.  Nineteen eighty-six, that’s 22 years ago.  What percentage of them stayed married?  What percentage of them are divorced?

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Yes.  Good question Chip.  That is the question that people ask all the time.  Forty-five percent of the couples are now divorced, and that turns out to be very similar to the national average which is also 45 percent of first time married couples.  And I forgot to mention Chip, that these are all individuals who are getting married for the first time.

Chip August:  Ok.  Now, do you know what percentage of the 45 percent that got divorced, got remarried in that 22 years?

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  That’s also a really good question.  It varies a little bit depending on when you got divorced in those 22 years.  Those people who divorce early, are much more likely to get remarried.  I also have differences by age, and by race or ethnicity.  But, in general, I would say that over half of the individuals get remarried. 

Chip August:  Ok.  Now, you interview them.  Why do marriages, I mean everybody wants to know this, why do marriages fail?  Why are these 45 percent not able to keep it going?

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Well, the answer depends on whether or not you’re interviewing a husband or a wife, or a man or a woman.  Because, what we have found over time, is that what’s important to men, the questions they ask about their marriages and what makes them happy, is different than what’s important to women and what makes their marriages happy. 

So, if I were looking at the men first, I would say that the number one thing that predicts divorce as reported by the husbands, is what I call affective affirmation.  The degree to which they feel validated, made to feel special by their wives.  When husbands don’t feel that their wives are making them feel valuable, special, their lives exciting, those couples are almost two times more likely to divorce over time.

Chip August:  So, let me turn that around a little bit.  A significant factor in men wanting a divorce is that they feel like they’re hearing a lot of criticism and complaint, and not feeling like they’re getting a lot a validation and appreciation.  Is that what you’re saying?

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  That is exactly what I am saying.  And I would think that validation is also important to women, but it turns out that the only place that men get that validation, affirmation, and it can be as simple as, I love you, you’re great, thank you, or a kiss,  the only place that they get that validation is from their wives.  Women have so many other places to get that validation and affirmation.  They have their friends, their mothers, even the woman down the block who as they’re passing says, I love your hair cut.  Where did you get your hair cut?  So, again, women have all kinds of people to get affirmation and validation from.  Men depend on their wives to get that validation.  So, when it’s not there, they look elsewhere to get it.

Chip August:  Yeah, it’s part of my sadness about what I call the “be a man” training that seems like we American men go through where increasingly it feels like we’re taught to bring our feelings to our significant other and some how be invulnerable everywhere else in the world.

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Exactly.  And you don’t go out and share feelings with your friends who happen to be men or people at work.

Chip August:  Well, certainly not sober anyway. 

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Yeah, right.  Exactly.  And that’s a shame, because look at the pressure and the stress that you’re placing on your wife or your female partner.

Chip August:  Ok.  So, the men are leaving because they feel criticized, they don’t feel validated.  Why are the women getting divorced?

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  The women are getting divorced for two reasons.  First, high amounts of conflict.  It turns out that women when they have a disagreement with their husbands, hold on to the conflict for at least two to three days.  They can’t let it go.  So, they have conflict or a disagreement and then the couple parts and the wife thinks about it and analyzes it and reassesses it again, and then wants to go back to the husband and talk about it again.  And then goes apart and wants to come back and think about it again and discuss it.  She is not able to compartmentalize, or not let go, of the conflict. 

Men on the other hand, it turns out, do conflict and then let it go and they’re done.  It’s settled and they forget about it.  So, it turns out when women report high amounts of conflict in their marriage, they are more likely to get divorced over time.  So, that turns out to be the first important reason.

Chip August:  Wow.  I don’t know why, but I sort of expected that the first two things you were going to say to me were sex and money, and I’m fascinated that they’re not.  I’m actually relieved that they’re not.

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  I know, and that’s not what I end up reporting.  Absolutely!  I do have a funny story though to tell you.  Specifically about my research study about conflict. 

We have husbands and wives come and talk about, separately, the last time they had a disagreement with their spouse.  The husbands will come in and they’re asked to talk about when the last disagreement was, the topic, and whether or not it was resolved.  Husbands will come in, they’ll have a hard time remembering the topic of the last disagreement and when it was.  But, they’ll say that it was resolved, and it was resolved or settled very quickly. 

The wife of the husband who just came in the door, will come in.  She will report the day, the time, what he said, what she said, and what she was wearing.

Chip August:  Wow!

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  The women report and remember conflict with details and specificity.  And most interesting, she will report that the conflict was not resolved quickly.

Chip August:  Interesting.

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Yes.  Very fascinating within the couple to see that kind of difference, where he doesn’t remember and it was resolved, and she remembers specifics about the disagreement and it wasn’t resolved.

Chip August:  So, let’s turn this around now and look at the 65 percent, or 55 percent rather, who are still together.  What do you notice about what keeps them together?  What’s the good stuff that makes it work?

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Well, the first thing that makes it work is communication.  And that’s probably not surprising to many people.  Those couples that are able to maintain communication are much more likely to stay together over time.  And it’s interesting though to note what that means to couples.  Some couples mistakenly assume that handling daily tasks like who’s going to pick up the milk, and whose going to pick up your daughter at soccer practice, is communication.  Unfortunately, that kind of communication does not keep couples together over time.  Instead, what couples are talking about and what I have found in my studies, is that communication is really sharing thoughts and dreams and goals.  It’s talking about the important things about your life rather than handling daily tasks.  And couples that are able to maintain that kind of communication are much more likely to stay together over time.

Chip August:  Yeah, and when you talk to these couples, is this pillow talk?  I mean when, I’m sorry, but I’ve got two kids and a wife and a job, you know.  When do you have these deep and meaningful conversations?

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  It’s very difficult and especially as you mention, as kids enter the picture, as you get really involved with work, it becomes difficult because time is so rushed and we put so much into each day, each week, each year.  What I encourage couples to do, is to not assume that communication means face to face communication.  Now, technology is there.  Use it to your advantage.  E-mail, text message, use the phone.  Talk about things that are important to you.  Not only when you get home at night in the bedroom, or in bed, but all throughout your day.  But, use technology to help you maintain that kind of communication.

Chip August:  So, when you’re talking to these couples, you and your team, any big surprises for you?

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  I think the one thing that was, I guess, surprising, but you know, some people think it’s not surprising, is that the other thing that really is important for keeping couples together is what I call team work.  And this is especially important for women more so than men.  Women like to feel that they’re part of the team.  That decisions are being made, whether they be about money or children, or a big purchase that you’re about to make, is being made by both of you.  Not one or the other person. 

That also means that women like to feel that their husbands are helping around the house and with the children.  And again, it doesn’t have to be 50-50, Chip.  It just has to mean that each person thinks that the other partner is helping some and that the arrangement is fair. 

I really thought that women would think that they wanted this half split where husbands are doing half and wives are doing half.  But, we found that that’s not the case.  As long as the division of labor, or whose doing what around the home is fair, that’s when team work is maintained and that’s what’s important over the long term.

Chip August:  When you say that, I get that we don’t punch a clock or keep time sheets of whose doing what or when.  It’s more that feeling of, do I feel supported, do I feel like I’m out here alone, do I feel like I’m supportive.  Yeah, I can see how that could really help.

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Exactly.  It really does help.  It really feels like then you’re in this together and you’re in this for the long haul.  And it turns out, that’s important for women who work outside the home or women who don’t work outside the home.  We still find that women still do the majority of work around the house and with the children even when they work outside the home.  But, supporting husbands and men these days, men are doing more with children and around the house than they’ve ever done before. 

Chip August:   Well, all right guys!  That’s one for us. 

We’re going to take a break and give some support to our sponsors.  We’re talking to Dr. Terri, the Love Doctor and we’ll be right back. 

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Chip August:  Welcome back.  You’re listening to Sex, Love and Intimacy.  I’m your host, Chip August.  We’re talking to Dr. Terri, the Love Doctor and we’re talking about marriage and romance, and divorce and relationships.  Dr. Terri’s been talking about some research she and her team have been doing.  Following 373 couples for the last 22 years learning about marriage, learning about divorce, learning about romance. 

I was looking at your website and I noticed that you have a whole thing there about trust and how to get it back.  This is a big issue for couples.  I notice that the longer you’re together, the more likely that sooner or later somebody’s going to feel like they were betrayed by somebody else.  What do you do when you feel like your partner has betrayed you?

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Well, the first question that I often get surrounding that topic is, can you ever regain trust once your partner has betrayed you.  And I think the answer always is yes.  It can be rebuilt, but it takes a lot of work and commitment, and it takes work and commitment on both partner’s parts.  So, if one partner is working and committed to regaining trust, you can’t rebuild it in the relationship.  You need both people doing it together. 

The other important thing to remember before we go over some specifics stuff, Chip, is that it takes time.  This is not an over night process to rebuild or regain trust.  It really takes a long period of time.  Because a betrayal is when trust is broken, and trust is an important and necessary aspect of any romantic relationship.  If you don’t have it, you can’t go forward.  It’s really the first step in developing and building all of those other things that we’ve been talking about.  Like love and commitment and intimacy, and if you don’t have trust, you can’t build those other things.  So, you have to go back and rebuild it.  But, it takes time and it takes both partners parts.

Chip August:  Ok.  So, I was raised, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.  Why should I trust, you know.  If my partner’s hurt me, aren’t they just going to hurt me again?

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Well, I think sometimes that can happen.  The best predictor of future behavior is present behavior.  But, and I say it with a big B a U and a T, but, that doesn’t mean that people can’t change.  And when people recognize the importance of what they could lose, or recognize the importance of what they have, they may work hard to not repeat the same mistake in the future. 

So, the first thing I think is important, is that you want to sit down with your partner and talk to that person.  Sometimes people like to just avoid the topic and think it’s going to go away.  I encourage couples to come together, spouses to come together, and talk.  And the betrayer must give a sincere apology.  And when I say sincere, I mean honest and heartfelt. 

And then what’s really important in that communication process as well, Chip, is that both partners need to understand the other partner’s perspective.  Do you have a sense of why your partner betrayed you?  If it’s an affair, why did the infidelity or the affair happen?  And did that partner understand how you feel now that you’ve been betrayed and how it’s affected your relationship? 

Both people need to understand the other person’s perspective and that can be really hard, because at least the betrayed, you’re angry and you’re upset.  So, one of the other things that you want to do, if you’ve been betrayed, is you need to express anger to your partner in a constructive way.  You don’t want to attack them.  You don’t want to hurt them, but you really need to express the anger and get the feelings out, because if the anger stays in, it festers and it just grows and you’re not able to rebuild the trust.  I encourage couples, or at least the partner that has been betrayed, to write a letter first to the partner.  Get it all out on paper or all out on the computer and then read the letter to the partner.  Allow that person to hear and understand the anger that you feel.

Chip August: That is a great tool.  I actually often suggest that to people that I work with.  The idea of writing.  The thing I think I would add, is that I encourage people to write the letter then keep the letter for a day or so then reread it, then decide whether they want to share it or not.  Because I notice that after a day or so, often people want to edit a little bit and perhaps find a less firery but equally effective way to say the same information.

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  I agree.  Good suggestion.  Very good suggestion.  Because sometimes we say things that we really don’t want our partner to hear.

Chip August:  Exactly right.  It’s not even that we don’t want them to hear it, we just say it in a way that’s going to actually pour some kerosene on the flames rather than calm things down.  And it’s great to just step back and say ok, I really want to communicate this, but I want to make sure I communicate in a way that my partner will hear it.

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Right.  And that they’re not defensive.

Chip August:  Now, you’re working with all these couples, right?  So, you’re watching some couples find their way back from these moments of betrayal.  You’re watching some couples not find their way back.  Is really communication the only, I mean you know the ones that find their way back are the ones that talk about it and some how heal the anger and that’s it, that’s the whole story, you know, end of story?

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  No.  I think communication is important.  I also think that there are other important things.  I think it depends on the commitment level at the time that the betrayal occurred.  How committed each partner was not only to the marriage, but also to the partner.  I also think that whether or not this is the first time betrayal or repeated betrayal is also very important.  If it’s the first time, that couple is much more likely to stay together.  Where as if this is the second, third, or what I call, higher order time, because who knows how many times we may enter into the future.  Then, that couple is less likely to stay together. 

The other indicator that I have found as I work with couples, I ask them to make a list of the positive things in their relationship.  And at the beginning that’s very difficult, very challenging to do.  But, those couples over time, who are able to make a list of positive things in the relationship, the benefits of staying together or the benefits of that relationship or what’s good about their partner.  Even though that partner has betrayed them.  That couple is much more likely to stay together over time.  The couple that’s able to make the list of positive things. 

Chip August:  Now, you said two things I want to follow up on.  And they’re two different tracks completely.  One is, you said a sincere apology.  What are the elements of an apology?  What needs to be present for an apology to be a really sincere apology? 

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  I think it varies from individual to individual, but I think it depends on how committed or how much the betrayer, the person who has betrayed the other partner, is willing to do.  For example, one thing that many partners who have been betrayed say is, I don’t want that person to go back into the same circumstances.  Whether that means going back to the same job, or going back to the same person, seeing that person, or whatever.  Even going back and having control of the pocketbook or the checking account.  There are different kinds of betrayals.  It depends on what that other partner is willing to do to commit to that other person.  I have couples sign contracts and sometimes that helps a sincere apology or that helps one partner see that the apology is sincere. 

Chip August:  That’s a great idea. 

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  And it’s really a piece of paper that both partners sign setting a specific time period that you are going to work on the relationship.  That you’re not going to leave the relationship and that the demands or the circumstances that both people want a part of the contract are in there, and then each partner signs it.

Chip August:  I love that.  That’s a great idea.  I want to talk some more about all this, but I also want to give a chance for us to show some support to our sponsors.  So, we’re going to take a short break and we’ll be right back.  You’re listening to Sex, Love and Intimacy and we’ll be back.

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Chip August:  Welcome back.  You’re listening to Sex, Love and Intimacy.  I’m your host, Chip August.  We’re talking to Dr. Terri.  She’s the Love Doctor and we’ve been talking about relationships, and when we took a break, we were talking about trust. 

One of the things you said Dr. Terri, was that one of the ways to find our way back into trust, is if the person who betrays the trust can say honestly what caused it.  If you can talk about, well, this is what lead up to it, or this is what happened.  I can’t help but notice though, a lot of people just go straight into the, I don’t know, it’s just one of those things, it wasn’t my fault, it doesn’t have anything to do with you, and don’t ever really look at why it happened.  So, how do you help somebody figure out why this happened?

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  I think the important thing first Chip, is that it takes two people to make a relationship.  So, what we have found, at least in my studies, is if you can give what I call a relationship blame statement, that couple is more likely to be able to see what the other partner is saying.  And what do I mean by a relationship blame statement?  Something about the two people, about the relationship.  So, we are not compatible, or we changed so we have no interests in common.  Or, I’m not able to communicate with you anymore.  Which really, communication is a two way process, so it takes both of you.  When you’re able to make those kind of relationship statements, what I have found is that the other partner is able to hear it, you are able to work on it together, and that couple is more likely to regain trust and stay together over the long haul.

Chip August:  I completely see.  I understand.  In this you’re telling people to express anger.  Let’s talk about anger a little bit.  I feel like in our culture we’re pretty anger negative.  The only word for an angry woman that I know of is bitch, and that’s not a positive thing. 

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Not a positive thing at all. 

Chip August:  And when we see angry men, if you’re walking down the street and you look up and some guy looks like he’s angry or he’s talking really loud on the phone, you cross the street, right?  We’re afraid of anger.  How do you help people actually feel their anger and express it?

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  I think anger is extremely positive.  It’s how you express that anger that is either negative or beneficial to the relationship.  And what we’ve seen in the media, or even the stories that you were just telling about the man or the woman, we typically think of someone who is expressing that anger destructively, negatively, in a bad way.  What we want to do I think, is reframe anger.  To suggest or indicate that there are positive ways to express anger.  And that anger actually motivates people. 

Keeping it inside you doesn’t allow you to move on.  It keeps you stuck in the mud.  But, if you are able to express it in a constructive way, it motivates you, moves you forward.  I just picture somebody gliding on ice skates as they are constructively expressing their anger.  And I think that’s the image and that’s the way that people need to reframe their minds in terms of anger.

Chip August:  It’s also my experience that when we suppress our anger, when we don’t find appropriate ways to express it, in a way it feels like we suppress our passion. 

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Absolutely.  I mean it suppresses what motivates us, what moves us, and what we feel passionate about.  And it also works on our body.  You’d be surprised at people who are having difficult times physically with their physical health.  Often times, they are also suppressing their anger as well.

Chip August:  It’s sort of like you eat your anger and then your anger eats you.

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Absolutely true.  I completely agree. 

Chip August:  Ok.  So, anger.  That leads us into this whole area of conflict.  Now, I see you have a whole CD on conflict and how to deal with it and what to do with it.  My Buddhist Tantric training says that marriage is the fast path to enlightenment because you’re polishing against each other.  You’re rubbing against each other.  There’s always going to be some level of conflict.  How do you deal with conflict in relationships?

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Well first, I think what you just said is really important for people to understand, Chip.  And that is, that fighting with your partner is perfectly normal.  It’s common.  When couples say that we never fight, the reality probably is that those couples aren’t really also talking about the things that are important to them.  You are bound to disagree.  And that’s important to remember so that you don’t sort of freak out when you have a disagreement or you have a conflict.  And I have several tips that I encourage couples to listen to. 

The first is that you want to try to remain calm when you talk.  You want to take a few breaths.  I even tell couples that it’s ok to take a break if you’re really upset and emotional.  What we find is that when we’re really upset and emotional, it does something to our brainwave.  It changes the brain structure and we’re not able to be at our problem solving best.  It takes at least 30 minutes to go back to normal, the brainwaves, our ability to problem solve.  So, take a break.  Tell your partner though.  Be sure you tell your partner.  That’s important, Chip.  Tell your partner that you need a break for minutes or seconds and then come back and deal with the issue.  And you’ll find that helps so much with the disagreement or the conflict.

Chip August:  Basically a time out. 

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Absolutely.  And they’re wonderful.  You can breath, you calm down, your heart rate goes back to normal and then you can come back and discuss the issue. 

The second thing I encourage couples to do is to find the right situation to have the conflict or disagreement in.  You should try to avoid conflict when you are tired or angry.  The most common place that couples have conflict is at night in the bedroom and that’s two big no-nos.  You should never have it at night and never in the bedroom.  So, you want to find a time that is right.  And that’s really important, because then you can focus on the disagreement, you can focus on the communication. 

Another thing that is really important, is that when you’re talking about the topic or what’s annoying you with the other partner, be sure you address one specific behavior at a time.  You don’t want to do what I call kitchen sinking, and unfortunately women are much better at this than men, and that is that you bring every thing up into the conversation at once.  You start out by saying something that annoyed you yesterday and then you’re last week, last month, last year, and what you do, is you box your partner into a box and they don’t know where to go and they don’t where to start.  So, address one specific behavior at a time. 

Try to stay away from statements like always, or never.  You’d be surprised at how much those words creep into our conversation.  You always do this, you never do that.  And try not to dismiss your partners emotions.  What you want to try to do is validate.  You don’t have to agree with what they’re saying, but don’t communicate statements like, you can’t feel that way, or that’s crazy, why would you feel that.  Those are dismissal statements rather than validation statements.

Chip August:  I would especially add in why questions.  You know like, well why would you feel that, why.  I find that understanding why is rarely useful in resolving any of this stuff.  The why isn’t really what’s important.  It’s understanding that you are feeling that, and that it’s real for you.

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Right, and that doesn’t mean if you understand it, that you agree with it.  But, understanding helps move the conversation forward. 

Finally, I say you always have to fight fair and not do any name calling.  There’s always multiple ways as we’ve said before to convey a message, and so you always want to try to keep those name calling statements out of the conversation.  Use your I statements.  I feel this, rather than your you statements. 

Chip August:  I actually have a list of what I call fouls in conflict resolution, and number one is name calling.  That’s off limits.  I also think you have to stay away from put downs, you have to stay away from blaming, you have to stay away from threats and hitting.  I think this whole thing about bringing up the past, what you call kitchen sinking, definitely sinks things.  I think there’s no part of it that’s making excuses and there’s no part of it that’s getting even.

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  I agree completely.  The other thing that I talk about, besides all the things that you just mentioned, are yes, but statements.  Those are statements like ok, yes, I may have done this, but you’ve done that.  And that’s not good either.  It’s like a ledger that you’re keeping of the pros and cons, or the goods and the bads of each partner, and that also sinks a conversation or communication.

Chip August:  Well, I’m enjoying this conversation a great deal and I want to take a short break and give us a chance to support our sponsors.  You’re listening to Sex, Love and Intimacy.  I’m your host Chip August and we’re just going to take a short break.

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Chip August:  Welcome back.  You’re listening to Sex, Love and Intimacy.  I’m your host Chip August.  We’re talking to Dr. Terri, the Love Doctor, and we’ve been talking about marriage and romance and what keeps relationships going and I want to move our conversation a little bit into passion.  I notice that you have a CD talking about passion and how to recreate it when it’s lost.  Could you give me some tips here about how do you keep the passion going in a long term relationship? 

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  That’s a good question.  It is the number one question that I get from people over time.  And that’s because passion is always high at the beginning of a relationship.  Everything is new and exciting and you really want to keep the passion. 

The first thing that’s important as we try to recreate passion, is to remember that in all relationships, passion declines.  It is inevitable.  It has nothing to do with you or your partner or the relationship.  And that’s because as you get to know your partner, the passion declines because passion is fueled by newness and excitement.  So, when you get to know what they like to do on Sundays, the food they like to eat, the paper they like to read, that information actually makes the passion decline. 

So the first tip to recreate passion then, is to try a new and novel activity with your partner.  You can try skiing for the first time.  You can take a cooking class with your partner.  Many couples even tell me that they pick a new restaurant.  They plan a mystery date where it’s a huge surprise, it’s exciting.  All of those kinds of activities then can fuel or recreate that passion and excitement with your partner. 

The second thing that I tell couples is my favorite suggestion.  And that’s what I call an arousal producing activity.  And before I say it, it’s not what you think so don’t turn off the podcast.

Chip August:  It sounded good to me.

Dr. Terri Orbuch:    Ok, good.  This is my favorite suggestion.  What you want to do with your partner is an activity where an arousal producing activity can get transferred to your relationship.  What that means is you should exercise together, you should do something that is fear producing like jumping out of an airplane or parachuting.  Even going and watching a scary movie together.  And what we know from studies is that the arousal that’s produced due to the exercise or to the fear activity, can actually get transferred to you and your relationship.  So, go to the gym.  Go watch a really scary movie and you will find that passion can get recreated and refueled with your partner.

Chip August:  You know, you are the first person I’ve ever heard suggest that jumping out of an airplane could bring back the passion in your relationship and I think it’s a great idea. 

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Yeah.  An amusement park as well as a roller coaster ride does the same exact thing. 

Chip August:  I think it’s a great idea.  I really do get that part of what keeps the passion going in my own relationship is that we go skiing and that we do white water rafting with the kids sometimes, and that we go to an amusement park once in awhile.  And you’re right.  I get it.  I just never heard an expert say it. 

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Right.  And they’ve done these really scientific studies that show that the arousal, or the arousal producing adrenaline actually, gets transferred. 

And third, the really interesting thing is to go away on a romantic get away with your partner and this is especially important for women.  Studies show that woman can have a difficult time at home, with the kids, when there are so many responsibilities at home they have a difficult time becoming passionate and romantic.  So, if you can get away together, just the two of you, and your mini vacation only has to last at least one night and two days, women can begin to focus on the relationship, can begin to become romantic and passionate with their partner.

Chip August:  That’s a great idea.  I’ve really enjoyed talking to you.  We’re coming to the end of our time and I just want to say, you’re a great guest and I think you’ve got a lot of really good things to say.  If people wanted to get in touch with you, if they want to get more Dr. Terri, where do they go?  How do they find you?

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  I have a website, Chip.  It’s doctorTerrithelovedoctor.com, and on my website you can purchase my three CD set, my book, you can have a personal session with the love doctor, or you can just find out more information about me.

Chip August:  And are you also on the air somewhere?  Did I read you actually have an ongoing TV program or radio? 

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Yes.  I’m on weekly the FOX station in Detroit, Michigan.  Every Tuesday morning I appear on the FOX2 morning news with a new, different and interesting relationship topic. 

Chip August:  That’s great.  And finally, I always like to leave my listeners with an exercise.  Something they can do for themselves.  Something they can do at home that will make their relationship better, more passionate, more loving, more romantic, and I’m wondering if you have an exercise that you could offer to my listeners?

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  I do, Chip.  And that goes back to the number one thing that really keeps people together over the long haul.  And that’s communication.  I encourage couples to spend at least 5 minutes every day talking about something other than work, the family or children, and whose going to do what around the house.  And so many couples will say what in the world do we have to talk about?  You can talk about sports.  You can talk about movies, politics, your dreams, your hopes, or your goals.  So, every couple, sit down with your partner.  Make an agreement that for the next 30 days, every single day, you will spend at least 5 minutes talking about something other than work, family, children, or whose going to do what around the house.  And by the way, remember this communication does not have to be face to face.  It can be over e-mail.  It can be over the phone.  It can even be a letter writing to your partner.  It’s just important that the communication occurs.  It doesn’t have to be face to face.

Chip August:  Yeah.  And I’d remind everyone about what you said about how corrosive criticism is and that this isn’t 5 minutes of things you want to fix or things you want to change.  This is 5 minutes of opening your heart to somebody and having them open their heart to you. 

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Absolutely.  This is the kind of communication that’s positive.  That you are talking about not only the positive things in you, but your relationship or partner.

Chip August:  And what I know is, what you practice is what you get good at.  So, you do this 5 minutes a day for the next 30 days and you’re going to get really good at this.  What a great idea!  Great suggestion.  Thank you Dr. Terri.  You have been a terrific guest and I really appreciate you spending this time with us.

Dr. Terri Orbuch:  Thank you Chip.  It’s been my pleasure.  It’s been fun.

Chip August:  I want to say to the listeners that if you would like to give some comments on this show or comments about Dr. Terri or about me, you can send them to me, [email protected].  Also for text and transcripts of the show and other shows on the Personal Live Media network, please visit our website at personallifemedia.com.  That’s all one word. 

I have our sponsor, ifrogs.com.  They make accessories for your MP3 player and they’ve kindly given me a basket of goodies which I’m happy to give away.  So, if you are a listener and you send me a suggestion for a program or a blog that I use, I will happily, happily send you an accessory for your IPod or your MP3 player.  So, please do get in touch with me and give me some good ideas.  Thank you for listening and we’ll be with you next time.  This is Chip August saying goodbye for now.

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