Dr. Charles Foster has an international reputation as a therapist for individuals, couples, and families and as a consultant for organizations of all sizes. He is co-founder and research director of The Chestnut Hill Institute. And with Mira Kirshenbaum, he is author, co-author, and lead researcher of over thirteen books. He has lectured at the Harvard Medical School and has made numerous TV appearances.
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This is a big day! It’s not only Valentine’s Day–Happy Valentine’s Day!–but it’s also the day an interview with us in relationship therapy appeared on the famous Five Books website. Here’s the link to the interview itself, and here’s the link to the Five Books main page featuring our interview.
Here’s how these interviews work. People who are famous or prominent in their fields are invited to recommend the five best books in their fields, and the cover everything under the sun–the whole world of art, history, science, culture, economics, cooking, music. You name it. The only restriction, darn it!, is that you can’t recommend any of your own books.
Now we did this interview a few years ago. But when we were contacted again we were told that it was one of their most popular interviews and they wanted to run it on Valentine’s Day.
Click here to see it on the Five Books website with lovely pictures and graphics. Or just keep reading here if you just want the words. Here’s the whole text:
Mira Kirshenbaum recommends the best books on Relationship Therapy
To mark Valentine’s Day, we asked Mira Kirshenbaum, psychotherapist and clinical director of the Chestnut Hill Institute, to choose the best books on how successful relationships work—and what advice she’d give to Emma and Charles Bovary.
Mira Kirshenbaum is a therapist for individuals, couples and families. She is co-founder and clinical director of The Chestnut Hill Institute. She is the author of eleven bestselling and award-winning books on relationships, translated into 25 languages, including I Love You, But I Don’t Trust You: The Complete Guide to Restoring Trust in Your Relationship, Too Good To Leave, Too Bad To Stay: A Step-By-Step Guide to Resolving Your Relationship, and When Good People Have Affairs: Inside the Hearts and Minds of People in Two Relationships.
Mira, you are an internationally renowned relationship therapist. What can books tell us about relationships?
The year’s coming to an end and many of us, or some of us, or please God at least one of us! is looking back and reviewing their life, what’s happened, what they want to happen next. This is a very useful exercise.
But sometimes it can be a painful exercise. Sometimes…well, there’s one guy I’m thinking of who talked to me about how frustrated he was with himself. “I could be doing much better. I’m SO not doing my best. And what makes it worse—I just know that if I did my best, hell, I could do ANYTHING!” And there he sat, a young man with the eyes of someone tortured by self-loathing, watching another year of sub-par performance slide into the past.
Lots of people feel this way and for many of them this self-torture comes to a head at this looking-back, looking-forward time of year.
But we can help.
Let me begin by telling you something that might surprise you: Read the rest of this entry. »
You hear this a lot. At least I hear this a lot from people. ”What’s the point? Life is just a desert. You’re born. You die. So what? What difference does it make? Life just doesn’t seem to have any meaning for me.” Some of us are obsessed with thoughts like this. And many of us have these thoughts simmering below the surface much of the time. Christmas can bring them out even more, when all our Christmas busy-ness can suddenly seem like just going thru the motions.
So let’s look at this idea, the meaning of life. Hang in there with me: in a couple of minutes you’re gonna feel much better!
Well, actually it’s the phrase “the meaning of life” that’s totally meaningless. Looking for a meaning in life is like looking for a bicycle repair shop at the bottom of the ocean. It ain’t Read the rest of this entry. »
Again, apologies. We’re slowly getting up to speed with our blog posts. Here’s a new one, in our ripped from the headlines series. This is an interview we did for a writer for what is probably the most respected weekly magazine in the English speaking world. How this interview will be used, we don’t know, of course. But here’s the whole thing.
If you’ve had questions about the issue of infidelity in our society, this will be of great interest to you.
Q: Given that so many couples will experience infidelity at some point, do you think Americans have an unrealistically puritanical view of affairs and relationships? Read the rest of this entry. »
I know. It’s been a long, long time since we’ve posted a blog. March, I think—over 5 months. No, we haven’t been lost at sea. We’ve been crazy busy selling the house we’ve lived in in Boston for 39 years (!) and moving to Los Angeles. Now Bostonians are supposed to look down their noses at LA, but we love it. So much energy and creativity, and lots of fun people. Once we get settled—IF we ever get settled—I know we’re going to shift into high gear.
And we do have a blog for you today. A major newspaper did an interview with us about relationships recovering from betrayal.
Here’s the raw interview:
* Is it possible for a marriage to survive an affair - and if so, do you believe that a marriage should (can trust ever recover)?
CHI: Marriages can survive an affair Read the rest of this entry. »
When it comes to social issues, like abortion and gay marriage, the tide has been running mostly in one direction for the last 50 years: towards more liberal attitudes. That’s why social conservatives have been getting louder and more angry: they’ve been getting left behind by public opinion as a whole, particularly the opinions of younger adults.
So it might come as a surprise to learn that in one area opinions are actually becoming a bit less tolerant. It seems as though people are becoming a bit less tolerant of the idea that “Divorce is usually the best solution when a couple can’t seem to work out their marriage problems.”
Acceptance of this idea has fallen by 8.7 percentage points among women and by 4.4 percentage points among men. Now that’s not a huge plunge, nor can we read a trend into it.
But still, it’s intriguing: why would there be this hardening in attitudes against divorce when the reason for the breakup is “We can’t work out our problems”? Isn’t that exactly why people leave their marriages?
Well, it turns out there is an explanation for this increase in intolerance. People Read the rest of this entry. »
…and the next thing you know, your health is a mess.
According to a number of studies coming out over the past couple of years, bad marriages have bad consequences for our health. Our heart health, specifically.
Here’s how it works. Marital problems cause stress, stress raises blood pressure, high blood pressure causes heart attacks.
So if your marriage is not working so well, you’re just going to have to do something about it. Divorce is one option. It’s the best option for many people. But many times the best option is to work on making your relationship better. And that means getting professional help.
And in that case there’s good news:
What was St. Valentine—you know, the guy—all about and what does he have to do with us?
The truth is that Valentine was a Roman Christian martyr. What’s more… Well, there is no what’s more, because that’s all we know. According to Wikipedia,
The feast of St. Valentine of February 14 was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who included Valentine among all those “… whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God.”
So for all you ladies who feel your husband is a hidden man who shares little about himself, but who too often acts like a martyr and demands to be “justly reverenced,” St. Valentine is your guy!
The rest is fairy tales, and a way for retailers and restaurants to make money two months after Christmas.
And that’s only one of the reason I don’t like Valentine’s day. The main reason I don’t like it is Read the rest of this entry. »
I don’t know, but that seems like a fair question when someone writes a newspaper article titled “Can an Affair Save a Marriage?” and then goes on to say
US marriage therapist Mira Kirshenbaum outraged many with her book When Good People Have Affairs, which claimed the “right kind” of fling could “jolt people from their inertia”.
The author then goes on to imply that we’re starting a movement of people having affairs to shake up their marriage. The affair as a marriage tonic.
But IS that what we say?
Of course not. Yes, it sometimes happens that Read the rest of this entry. »
Well, you probably saw this coming. The world is going to hell, so why not: grandma and grandpa are getting divorced. So sad. So selfish. So silly. Do they even know what they’re doing? Who put these dopey ideas in their heads?
Well, maybe not your grandma and grandpa. But evidently lots of them, according to a NYTimes article that sniffs out a heating up of post-50 divorce:
Late-life divorce (also called “silver” or “gray” divorce) is becoming more common, and more acceptable. In 2014, people age 50 and above were twice as likely to go through a divorce than in 1990