Marriage Monday: Tips from Dr. Frank!

Okay, so, last week I said I was going to write about fighting in front of your kids... but I am just not feeling it.  I absolutely feel like the topic deserves attention, but I realized I didn't want to talk about conflict specifically two weeks in a row.  So instead, I'm going to share some really simple ways to care for your spouse and marriage!  I figure we can only gain from hearing the insights of others who have "been there, done that" - am I right?

  •  Divorces run in families. If you didn't know marriages when you were growing up, find people who are married and find out how they do it.
  • Common courtesy plays a big role in happy marriages. People who are permanently married are polite to one another. They don't want to hurt one another's feelings, and they don't try to make the other one feel humiliated. People who are married for life are extremely kind to one another.
  • Arguments are a natural part of any relationship, but cruelty is not. Above all, happily married partners see each other as allies, not as adversaries.
  • You can't be right and married at the same time. If you're trying to be right and prove your partner wrong, you've stepped outside the marriage.
  • To go without sex is to endanger the relationship. It's very easy to build up an incest taboo in a marriage. If you go without sex, your instincts recognize this person as part of the family but cease to recognize the person as a sex partner. The response can kick in surprisingly quickly - in as little as six weeks. People make a terrible mistake in being angry with their marriage partner and cutting them off sexually as a way of arousing great passion. It used to work in the ninth grade. But it doesn't work in the ninth decade.
  • Caressing and contact is always a good thing. The great thing about sex at this age is it ceases to be great, and it becomes funny. It feels good, but you never know what's going to work and what's not. Which brings up another trait that long-lasting marriage partners often share: a sense of humor.
  • Humor is vital, but it is vital to be happy, too. A happy marriage is a marriage between two happy people.
  • You're not going to be in love all the time, but if you want to recapture that magic from when you were in love, be loving. Being loving to your partner makes you feel so good about yourself, it doesn't matter if you're in love or not. The marriage is making you feel good if you are loving in it.
  • There's no point battling age in yourself or in your partner. No one has ever won.
  • Always keep your pants zipped in public.
Frank Pittman, as quoted in the Marin Independent, Sept 23, 2007

I love these bits and pieces of marriage advice and have held onto this news article for many years now.  I don't know about you, but my first thought was, "Okay, that's nice and all, but who is Frank Pittman?"  I mean, anyone can write advice on marriage, but when I read things like this I want to know more about the person behind the words.  So naturally, I googled him and I am loving the results!

Evidently, good ole Frank (well, DR. Frank) has done a piece for Psychology Today which is poignantly titled "Ask Dr. Frank" where he answers the real question of real people on real psychology issues, for real.  As I was perusing these entries, I found some real gems, this one in particular is a favorite:

Dear Dr. Frank: Several years ago I divorced my wife and married Cherie, a woman I'd been having an affair with. She'd come from a broken home and had an unhappy childhood, and I admit, part of the attraction was that she seemed to need me.
Lately, though, I've begun to miss my children, but they won't have anything to do with Cherie. I don't think they understand her or our relationship. Is there anything I can do to patch things up and have a happy family again?

Dear In Love: No. You've already demonstrated that your children's well being is not a high priority for you. As for Cherie, a woman who would steal the man out of a family can certainly not be trusted with the children. Apparently, your children will still talk to you after what you did to them. Consider yourself lucky and don't push your luck.

And while I find the next entry a wee bit condescending, I really do love the general notion behind it all - you go Dr. Frank!
Dear Dr. Frank: My husband is essentially a good man, a good provider, and a good father. But I am not in love anymore. I believe it's a mistake to stay married for the children's sake. What do you think?
Dear Not-In-Love: I don't think it is sufficient to stay married for the children's sake; parents have a responsibility to stay happily married for the children's sake.
If you are married to a good man and still don't find it easy to be happy or loving, perhaps there is something wrong with you. You could be afflicted with anything from schizophrenia to romanticism.
Most likely, you are one of those romantic women who expects a man to make her happy. Men are useful for many things, but they are not generally kept around for their entertainment value. I've known women in your predicament who brought meaning and stability to their lives through such diverse activities as square dancing, fly fishing, and organic farming.
For your children's sake, if not for your own, find the things that will make you happy without having to run frustratingly through a variety of men, each of whom is sure to let to you down.
If you want variety in your life, try cable television.

I think it's super common to look towards your spouse for the majority of your fulfillment, but if we do that I agree that the results can be disappointing.  This is why I can really appreciate Dr. Frank's advice about picking up hobbies.  And for me personally, when a hobby of mine overlaps with something that interests Tony, it can be an even better experience.  Another bonus of having hobbies?  You don't have to feel bad about dumping a hobby once it doesn't interest you anymore.  ;)

Anything you feel strongly about that Dr. Frank touched on?  Any additional insight to add?

Would you like to share about your own marriage?  Any advice or opinions on marriage-related topics to offer?  If you would like to contribute to an upcoming Marriage Monday or suggest a topic, feel free to contact me!

Don't be shy! - we all have something wonderful to offer and your thoughts can be a breath of fresh air to another marriage!


  1. I love everything you've listed. One thing I'm confused about though; how withhold sex can lead to incest?? I mean, I do see that withholding sex as a form of punishment is really ridiculous, and unfair to both partners.

    1. I actually think that linking withholding sex and the incest taboo kicking in is pretty brilliant. I hadn't heard it before reading this several years ago and I haven't really seen it since. I think since incest is so taboo that most people just plain don't enjoy talking about it. (Me included, especially when it comes to marriage.) I mean, Dr. Frank was pretty extreme to mention it, but like I said, I think the idea is pretty genius.

      When it comes to such a complex {and dare I say revolutionary?} idea, it's important to look at the role that sex plays in marriage (and because I couldn't explain it much better than this, I'm copying/pasting from

      {"Sex is a way of connecting to your wife emotionally and physically. It builds a bond that promotes closeness and emotional intimacy. Sex is the glue that holds a marriage together. Some would disagree but it's my opinion that the sharing of intimate pleasure in a marriage enables couples to bond more deeply as friends. That friendship will sustain the marriage as we age, our bodies change and our need for the sexual connection lessens. Sex is what separates a couples relationship from all other relationships. A marriage without sexual intimacy and friendship will eventually sputter and die."}

      I hope it goes without saying that I personally believe there are -ABSOLUTELY- some exceptions to this when it comes to withholding sex for a greater purpose. Like, being long distance for whatever reason, abstaining while practicing NFP to postpone pregnancy, or abstaining from sex after having a child, after surgery, or for any other medical reasons. But, to complete this idea, most of the time when you abstain for those reasons you are still loving and affectionate to your husband, ya know?

      I think the withholding sex that Dr. Frank was talking about was as a {passive-aggressive} punishment which would also include withholding love and affection. Would you agree?


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