Tag Archives: therapy

Pre-marriage therapy

Love is in the air, folks.

I had the chance to meet up with a long-time friend on a quick trip to Colorado. She was sharing the family joy about her niece’s upcoming wedding and all the fun, special, and multigenerational planning that was going into this event.

This morning I was talking with another friend who passed along the cheerful news of mutual friend’s engagement. We chatted about how great it was this mutual friend is really marrying the man of her dreams.


Last night I was cleaning off the DVR and perusing the April/May 2013 issue of Brides magazine (Yes, I subscribe. Judge me!) when I came across episode 9 of Shahs of Sunset. Yes, I know I’m on the late show with this episode – but hey, I know I’m not the only one who gets behind on DVR recordings.

Other than the chaos, yelling, knife wielding, and overspending of the Shah’s cast –this episode caused me to pause and make a connection with the therapy session between MJ and her mother.


The therapist offered both women clipboards with the prompts:

  • For my mother I want…
  • For my daughter want…

Each woman was allowed a few minutes to write some things down and then they share their thoughts and ideas with each other. The therapist does a great job, in my opinion, of helping both women understand how they are clinging to the past. They both need to update their relationship, learn who each other is right now, and recommit to having a loving and understanding relationship.

This seems like a simple activity, but if each person is open and honest, the impact can be very powerful.

An exercise like this would be a powerful opener for a bride or groom-to-be to have with their future in-laws and I’m thinking about adding it to my multigenerational boot camp series.

I would change the prompts up a bit:

  • For my son/daughter’s healthy marriage I want:
  • To support my son-in-law/daughter-in-law I will:
  • For a thriving relationship with my mother-in-law/father-in-law I want:
  • For an authentic relationship with my mother-in-law/father-in-law I will:

After a rich and deep discussion, it would be great if a visualization board contract could be created. Our society is big on words and how things can or should look – but I think creating a visualization board contract would create more room and space for the *in-laws to be thoughtful and mindful about the relationship they are entering into and how they will stay focused on what they’ve all committed to do.

The visualization board contract can capture feelings, ideas, thoughts, emotions, and moods that each in-law wants to tap into as they enter into this multigenerational relationship (aka – marriage). The board can leave room for the in-laws to continue to learn more about each other and the various ways they want to explore this. Assumptions can potentially fall away. The board can also highlight necessary boundaries they will also support this in-law relationship.

As you entered into your marriage/relationship, what steps did you take to build an authentic relationship with your in-laws?

When you became a mother-in-law/father-in-law, what proactive measures did you take to support your son/daughter’s marriage (or partnership)?


*in-law relationships with siblings could also be included


Will my kids need therapy?

People often comment on how well-functioning we seem as a multigenerational family and how sweet and well behaved my kids are.

My response… Thank you! I’m a perfect mother.

Ha! Just joking.

If nothing else, being a practical minded person is what I have on my side. I mean, really, it’s all I’ve got.


My 4-year-old (who will be five shortly) did not want to go to the grocery store with my mother-in-law. He just wasn’t interested. Since I was working at home, he thought he could stay and hang out with me.


I was working and my mother-in-law was in granny nanny let’s get something for dinner mode.

My son was immediately upset and I could see he was going to throw a tantrum. I looked directly at him and said, “Grandma is on a schedule and so am I. How about I set the timer on my phone for two minutes – you fall apart – and then you go to the grocery store with grandma? And, if you keep the tantrum down to two minutes, I’m sure grandma will buy a donut for you.

He agreed.

Tantrum transpired – 1 minute and 46 seconds.

Grocery shopping was completed.

Donut was consumed.

I’m not sure if this technique would make it into any perfecting parenting handbook, but that’s just how I roll.

And…later that same day, I ran into some website glitches and immediately became frustrated and upset. I was going to push through it and be grumpy – but I allowed myself a 2 minute tantrum (lying on the bed and kicking my feet), and damn, it felt GREAT!

Will my kids need therapy later on in life? Probably so.

Here are the top issues and things I think my kids’ therapists will hear:

My friends and I got together and they were talking about their baby books. I didn’t know anything about that. I thought it was customary to have your formative years documented on a blog. No?

People tell me I’m confused when I tell them senior citizen is a bad word. When I was growing up, saying senior citizen was equivalent to dropping the F bomb!

My parents were really strict about our bedtime – and I thought this was for my growth and development. Now I’m realizing 8:00/8:30pm was the time my grandmother went to bed, too.

I thought my after-school activities were about exposing me to broader things.  I now think my mom signed us up for after-school activities so my grandmother and I could be out of the house.

I loved taking summer trips to Minnesota with my grandmother – but now I understand this annual trip was really about my parents having “kid free” summer camp!

I know the big calendar in our kitchen kept our multigenerational family on track – but as an adult, I break out into hives when anyone says, “Is it on the calendar?!”

My grandmother always asked, “Who put a nickel in you?, when we were full of energy. When I say that now, people ask, “What’s a nickel?”

My partner/spouse thinks I’m silly for ringing the triangle when it’s time to eat. Isn’t this a universal practice?

I still don’t know the different between supper and dinner. Help!

Is it odd I consider myself a grandmother whisperer?

 As a parent or grandparent – on what topics do you think your kids/grandkids will need therapy, and why?