Tuesday Tip – How to have a Happy Marriage!

equalityToday’s Tuesday Tip is from Renowned Wall Street analyst Tim Kellis who give us his take on what could be considered society’s biggest problem today: divorce. The journey that led to him tackling such a significant issue was both personal and professional. After a successful career that eventually landed him on Wall Street, Tim met what he thought was the girl of his dreams, only to see that relationship end with bitterness and anger. The journey included work with a marital therapist, and after he discovered the therapist wasn’t really helping decided to tackle the issue himself.

Ambition and a strong aptitude for math helped lead Kellis to discover how to make relationships work. His math skills led directly to an engineering degree, nine years in the telecommunications industry, an MBA in finance, and finally on to Wall Street, where he became the very first semiconductor analyst to focus on the communications market.

After publishing a 300-page initiation piece entitled Initiating Coverage of the Semiconductor Industry: Riding the Bandwidth Wave, Kellis became a leading semiconductor analyst at one of the biggest firms on Wall Street. The experience he gained as a Wall Street analyst provided an excellent backdrop for becoming an expert on relationships, and resulted in his relationship book entitled Equality: The Quest for the Happy Marriage.

You can visit his website at www.happyrelationships.com or his blog at www.happymarriages.com.

Without further ado, here are Tim’s Tips! If you leave a comment on this blog post by midnight EST on Friday, May 29, you could be the lucky winner of a SINS OF THE FLESH lunch bag.

5 Tips for a Happy Marriage

Relationship Advice: Transference Causes Divorce

Here is the most significant point made in the entire book, transference causes divorce. This one single point can probably do more than any other to motivate couples to learn how to move their relationships in the right direction. And for the first time ever on a public forum, you can read what I am talking about. For the first time a psychological cause of divorce is explained.

If couples were to only understand what they are doing when they introduce anger and arguments into the relationship then they would hopefully have the motivation to solve their mental imbalances, their insecurities. The unfortunate reality is the only person who can overcome insecurities is the person with the insecurities, not the spouse, not the friends, and not the parents.

Transference is one of the most basic concepts in the psychology industry. This concept states that if you discuss your emotions with someone then you will transfer those emotions onto that person. In fact, Freud is who he is today because of transference. An amazing discovery is that Freud didn’t discover therapy, a Joseph Breuer did, by getting his first patient, who became famous as Anna O, to discuss the root causes of her mental problems. Breuer discovered that when he did she was able to overcome them.

Unfortunately for us today, Anna O also developed the first case of transference when she developed a “hysterical pregnancy” stemming from fantasies about him where she thought she was having Joseph Breuer’s child. When he realized this he abruptly referred her to a colleague, went on vacation with his wife, and treated Anna O no more. Unfortunately for Breuer, he “was uncomfortable with the topic of sexuality and though at the moment of the hysterical pregnancy he had ‘had the key in his hand’ (as Freud later wrote to a friend), he dropped it…[and] in conventional horror took flight”. Freud took over and completely abandoned the influence of our past on our present with his biology theory.

Transference is used today in the relationship between the therapist and the patient. This is the most basic tenet in the therapy process, with the theory that if the patient discusses his or her emotions then he or she becomes vulnerable to the advice of the therapist. Ideally therapists are supposed to utilize this vulnerability to help the patient understand the sources of the insecurities. This is also why the patient is vulnerable to fall in love with the therapist.

We just need to take this notion one step further. Instead of transference between the patient and the therapist we just need to understand the notion that within negative relationships the one with the insecurities is transferring the negative emotions behind those insecurities from the source onto the spouse.

In the example of the alcoholic parent, if there exists negative feelings about the alcoholic parent that remain unsolved then the continued anger at the spouse because of the association of the spouse having a drink and the parent, then those feelings are eventually transferred onto the spouse. Individual examples of anger are called projections and transference occurs when those emotions are completely transferred.

Relationship Advice: Handling conflicts in your relationship

The real question here is how to handle the inevitable conflicts that are certainly a part of every relationship when you bring 2 different people together with 2 completely different backgrounds.

The problem with our understanding of arguments is we have yet to elaborate on the emotional toll and psychological reaction to them. The objective, on the other hand, is to handle these conflicts through disagreements, not arguments. One of the most significant sections of my book is my section on Dr. Martin Luther King because he taught us the proper way to handle conflicts, what he called civil disobedience, a term he learned from a French philosopher by the name of Thoreau. In other words, when faced with conflicts that you disagree with it is okay to be disobedient, to disagree, just be civil about it.

The problem with arguments is the emotional toll on the 2 involved and the unfortunate break down in communications which is the result of disagreements that turn into arguments. The key difference between disagreements and arguments is disagreements take place on a logical plane while arguments take place on an emotional plane, which is not logical and solutions to these conflicts becomes extremely difficult if not impossible.

Unfortunately, modern psychology tries to convince us that if you don’t release your emotional anxieties that underlie all conflicts then you suppress them, where in time the suppressed anxieties eventually explode. What is missing here is the concept of not suppressing the underlying emotional anxieties but instead discussing them with your partner in life, who should provide an outside, objective perspective, barring your partner’s personal insecurities causing a subjective perspective in his or her response. The goal is to talk through the insecurities so that the fear underlying the emotional anxieties can be released in a positive manner.

And the reality is that as soon as you cross the plane of disagreements and enter the plane of arguments communications break down. With disagreements the logic, which is understood and could be either the logic of the thoughts or the logic of the feelings, is eventually comprehended by both parties where a solution then becomes possible. Unfortunately there are no real solutions behind emotional arguments. Not only are they not logical but in reality are the result of the effort by one party to enforce his or her subjective perspective, at the cost of a better objective solution for both within a relationship.

Relationship Advice: When your spouse makes a drastic life change

In positive relationships, as individuals within a marriage grow and develop new interests, hobbies, outlooks on life, religion, etc both get to live through this change in a positive manner where the change is understood and most importantly, appreciated. Obviously, the change is within one of the two and it is important that this change not be enforced onto the other, because the change is intended for one, not both.

Problems, though, occur within the negative relationship when this change is used as a further wedge between the two, a wedge that had already been developed with the other unresolved issues within the marriage. Then it becomes another brick in the path of the destruction of the marriage.

Then it becomes a, or quite possibly the, issue that finally pushes the couple apart to the point of the thud of complacency within negative marriages, or divorce. Then it becomes a problem.

What is needed in this situation is to understand and appreciate the changes within the individual.

For example, if one of the two within a marriage decides to become much more religious, then the other partner needs to understand this as part of the maturing process, and accept and appreciate this change. The one who has found religion cannot enforce this change onto the other. Then it becomes a wedge in the relationship.

Relationship Advice: Quid-Pro-Quo in the Relationship

There are 2 paths taken with conflicts, arguments and disagreements, and the one I am trying to teach is through disagreements, which are logical discussions, even over emotional issues. Arguments, which are emotional discussions, are not resolvable. If you cannot address logically the why with conflicts then you have issues that become unresolvable which lead to what are referred to psychologically as “psychic lesions”, issues that become mental blocks because they are not resolved.

And to a book on Quid-Pro-Quo, Gary Chapman’s “The 5 Languages of Love”, if this concept is addressed positively then it can be very helpful. This book has been a huge success. I was at a marriage conference about 6 months ago and Gary Chapman was one of the speakers. He spoke intelligently, eloquently, and very humorously. The languages (acts of service, physical touch, quality time, gifts, words of affirmation) do encompass a wide perspective of the different needs within relationships. If you could understand which one is more important then you can comprehend how best to understand your spouse.

The only problem with this approach is in reality it promotes a quid-pro-quo relationship in negative relationships. “If you give me physical contact then I will buy you things”, and this doesn’t work in negative relationships. Quid-pro-quo never works, the notion of conditional love. What is needed for successful relationships is unconditional love. In reality this concept is an extension of “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus”, which promotes that the key is to appreciate the differences between men and women, and unfortunately the notion of “separate but equal” didn’t work as we have seen with our racial struggles.

And the other problem with that book, and this problem also shows the materialistic approach of the professionals, is its materialism. The reality is he is promoting labor, sex, behavior, money, and communication, but he misses the most important languages, internal languages. The reality is the 2 pillars of happiness, and really the key languages to success are respect and empathy. Unfortunately you will have difficulty finding professionals discuss these 2 concepts because they have yet to breach the ivory walls of the psychology industry.

Please keep in mind with my critical words about the pros, but we as a society expect them to solve our marriage problems and they have yet to do it.

Relationship Advice: When Only One is Working on the Problems in the Relationship

Here is a question about one working on the relationship and not the other. My thought with this may be the approach that one is using in working on the relationship. I bet if you were to ask the other if he or she was interested in working on the relationship the answer may be yes, or it should be.

But if the approach to problems is based on the fear that problems may occur, instead of solving problems that do occur, then again the perspective is in the wrong direction.

I use a personal story to demonstrate my point. I worked on Wall Street as a semiconductor analyst, which basically means that I am one of dozens of analysts with opinions on the stocks I follow. I became negative on one in particular after being bullish on it, and the stock fell by 30%. After the market closed Intel bought the company and the stock doubled the next day.

My point is I was castigated on the chat rooms for being so stupid. Smart Money Magazine even wrote an article about me entitled “What Was He Thinking” about how stupid I was to downgrade the stock before Intel bought the Company. Professional investors know the difficulty in predicting where stock prices are going in the future.

The point is if you are addressing problems logically before they occur, or emotionally after they occur then you are basing your perspective on the underlying fear. The objective is to base your perspective on problems logically after they occur or emotionally before they occur. This is actually an extremely important difference between positive relationships and negative ones. And basing them emotionally before they occur basically means addressing the solution to problems before they come up with the goal of a happy outcome.

And yes to your point on behavior modification without an understanding of the underlying belief system and thought patterns. The reality is our character traits cause our behavior, and our character traits are nothing more than system of beliefs that we learned growing up. Obviously the objective is to have positive character traits, to be nice, but unfortunately in our material world we also learn negative character traits. Until these are changed solving problems in marriage becomes very difficult.

And the point about hidden or unresolved issues is until they are revealed you cannot address them because you do not know they exists. But the reality is anger is our way of exposing our insecurities. If we could only learn to neutralize our own defense mechanisms when our spouse gets mad then we could also learn to address anger, or sadness, when it is revealed.

6 thoughts on “Tuesday Tip – How to have a Happy Marriage!”

  1. “The point is if you are addressing problems logically before they occur, or emotionally after they occur then you are basing your perspective on the underlying fear. I don’t agree with this. You may be basing your perspective on past actions rather than fear.

  2. I am not married, but I found this to be a very informative article. The author makes some very good points. They are most certainly words to take to heart.

  3. Wow– what an intriguing indepth post, Caridad! This is such good information. Relationships are hard by any standards. And I’m one of those who live by emotion. If I get upset I emote. If I get angry I emote. If I’m happy I emote too! So this sure is something to ponder. I agree arguing over problems or issues is not a good thing. It solves nothing. After emoting, I try to back off and look at the situation in a new light. I know that isn’t the best way, but it’s better than doing nothing about it.

  4. I’m not married, but I know some couples who should read Tim’s Tips. I know people who argue about the same things over and over again and the problem never really gets addressed.

  5. What a great article. I hope a lot of people read it. So many could bebefit from it. I had a 22 year marriage that was a happy one. I always attributed ithat to the fact that we talked. If something was bothering either of us, we discussed it and then either resolved it or reached a compromise we could both live with. We had a couple of large issues from the beginning. An 18 year age gap and a divorce for each. So we were not very trusting in the beginning. We survived the odds and had a great life together. I haven’t found anyone that compares to him in 19 years. Have a great day and hugs to all.

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