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Relational Healing


May 9, 2020

#001: September 2013. That's the last time I remember having an in-depth conversation with my guest, Justin, about our marriage. Until now. On this episode, Justin and I try to make sense of why our marriage failed and what we both learned the hard way about ourselves and the institution of marriage. Hear from Justin himself what he's always wanted the chance to tell me. Hint: It's his "my ex-wife" one-up show stopper. 

About The Show

We all want the secret to a happy marriage. Thousands and thousands of hours are spent talking about marriage, thinking about marriage, analyzing marriage. Anyone who has been married knows that marriage is hard. Stress from everyday life spills over into our interactions with our partner. We all wish we had the skill set required to productively communicate under stress. We often fall short of that ideal.

What can we learn from a marriage that failed under the stress of two demanding jobs and two small children?

The transition to parenthood is one of the greatest periods of decline in marital satisfaction most couples ever experience. In this episode, we hear what that stress sounds like in a real world example, and we learn how couples can best protect themselves after the birth of their first child.

Why do some couples fair better than others? Let’s learn together.

001’s Guest
Justin is a vascular surgeon who grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. We met in our mid-20s in the Mississippi Delta while teaching in the Teach for America Americorps program. We got married in 2002 in my hometown of Malvern, PA, had our daughters Stevin in 2006 and Rowan in 2008, and got divorced in 2015. He gave marriage another try, marrying Micah in 2018. And he was brave enough and good-hearted enough to be my first guest on this podcast.

Key Concepts
Transition to Parenthood (TTP): The state of life after the birth of the first child
Marital Satisfaction: An individual’s assessment of the perceived benefits and costs of marriage to a particular person
Adaptive Skills: Skills used in our everyday life to meet our basic needs
Positive Problem Solving: Communication skills for negotiating solutions to specific challenges that avoid negative talk or counterproductive reactions
Relational Humility: possessing an accurate view of oneself, a humble portrayal of oneself to others, and a perspective that is more focused on others rather than on oneself

Websites, Resources, and Ideas Mentioned
Gottman Institute’s Seven Principles
Gottman Institute’s Four Horsemen
Love Bucket
Dr. Karl Pillemer’s Research
Tanner’s Post About Being Married to a Divorced Man

Research Studies Informing the Recap
The transition to parenthood: impact on couples’ romantic relationships; Doss, B., & Rhoades, G.

Perceived partner humility predicts subjective stress during transition to parenthood; Ripley, J. S., Garthe, R. C., Perkins, A., Worthington, E. L., Jr., Davis, D. E., Hook, J. N., Reid, C., Van Tongeren, D. R., Dwiwardani, C., Ord, A., Fennell, M., & Eaves, D.

The transition to parenthood as a critical window for adult health; Saxbe, D., Rossin-Slater, M., & Goldenberg, D.

The Dyadic Effects of Supportive Coparenting and Parental Stress on Relationship Quality Across the Transition to Parenthood; Durtschi, J., Soloski, K., & Kimmes, J.

Marital satisfaction across the transition to parenthood: Three eras of research; Lawrence, E., Rothman, A. D., Cobb, R. J., & Bradbury, T. N.

From Partnership to Parenthood: A Review of Marital Change Across the Transition to Parenthood; Kluwer E.S.

Thank you for being part of the Marriage is Hard community. If you're new here, you'll want to subscribe because just like today's episode on the next episode I'm having open, honest, and real conversations about life partnership that inspire and teach. Let's rock out the most important relationship we get to choose!