Five Marital Conflicts and How To Resolve Them (Money, Parenting, Sex, Division of Labor, In-Laws): The Guide to Getting Along
by Matthew Alexander, Ph.D., M.A.
“With great insight, sensitivity, creativity and humor, Dr. Alexander provides vital tools for those couples looking to enrich their lives and deepen their connections to one another. Five Marital Conflicts and How to Resolve Them: The Guide to Getting Along offers hope, guidance, clarity and inspiration. It should be on the bookshelf of very marriage and family therapist in America.”
Based on his thirty five years of experience as a couples therapist and educator, Dr. Alexander has written a manual that is wise, pragmatic and of great value to couples who struggle with any of these five common conflict areas. In addition to providing specific exercises, guidance and innovative tips to help couples resolve these five marital conflicts, Dr. Alexander includes case studies, resources and a fresh perspective on coupling entitled “12 Principles for Prosperous Partnerships.” The manual also includes an assessment tool that allows couples to determine their level of harmony or discord in each of the five conflict areas.
This manual is essential reading for all couples and the professionals who serve them. It is currently only available through this website and at Dr. Alexander’s seminars and continuing education presentations. Publication date is April 3, 2019. Pre-orders can be taken now.
Advance Praise for Five Marital Conflicts and How to Resolve Them: The Guide to Getting Along by Matthew Alexander, Ph.D.
“Kudos and many thanks to Dr. Matthew Alexander for producing such a readable, practical and sensible guide for couples seeking to resolve complicated relationship conflicts. Drawn from his three decades of experience as a master clinician, the manual offers pearls of wisdom for couples stuck in common, predictable patterns of negative interactions around money, parenting, sex, division of labor and in-laws. With great insight, sensitivity, creativity and humor, Dr. Alexander provides vital tools for those looking to enrich their lives and deepen their connections to one another. Five Marital Conflicts and How to Resolve Them: The Guide to Getting Along offers hope, guidance, clarity and inspiration. It should be on the bookshelf of every marriage and family therapist in America.”
Anthony L. Rostain, MD, MA
Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics
Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Co-Author of The Adult ADHD Tool Kit (2015, Routledge Press) and of The Stressed Years of Their Lives: Helping Your Kid Survive and Thrive During Their College Years (2019, St. Martin’s Press).
“A wonderful manual for couples. It is pragmatic and full of clinical wisdom gleaned from a life-time’s worth of work with clients. Very rich, informative and reasonable in its approach with a broad assortment of tools and logical thinking about how to solve dilemmas common to committed couples. I love this book.”
Kevin Ruth Davis, ACSW
Founder and Director, Family Therapy Training Institute
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy Supervisor
International Trainer for Internal Family Systems
Principle Ten: Build Your Empathy Muscle
We all want to be noticed. We all want to be understood. Empathy, the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, allows us to notice and understand our partners.
To build your empathy muscle, slow down and pay attention. Start by tuning into your own emotional life…this will make it easier to identify these same emotions in your spouse. Then pay attention to details about your spouse: what are they wearing, how they are spending their days, who are their friends? Also observe the expressions on their face and try to match those with emotions they may be feeling. Paying attention to such details will help you build your empathy muscle.
Principle Eleven: Apologize When You Are Wrong
If I had ten dollars for every client that complained that their spouse never apologized, I would be retired and living in Tahiti. Why is sorry the hardest word? Simply because a true apology is humbling and takes courage. And it has to be heartfelt to be effective.
I have listed the four key ingredients of a compassionate apology. When you have had a chance to cool down after a bad fight, a compassionate apology is an effective way to recover.
One important thing to remember about apology is that there are two connotations of the word sorry.
Connotation One: This “sorry” conveys responsibility. Example: “I am sorry I messed up and took the wrong road because I didn’t pay attention to your directions.”
Connotation Two: This “sorry” conveys sympathy not culpability i.e. “I am sorry that you are suffering.” Example: “I am sorry you spilled water on your pants and are wet!”
If you are unable to convey connotation one, connotation two might be a reasonable substitute and certainly is better than no apology.
Sometimes people have a hard time apologizing because they believe that their intentions were pure; for example, consider the following communication:
Spouse: “It was never my intention to hurt you when I changed plans and left you alone with my (hostile) parents while I connected with old friends.”
I doubt very much if the recipient of this mea culpa will take this “apology” to heart. I like to remind clients that the law does not make the distinction between intention and wrong-doing. If, for example, you are unaware that you are traveling on the wrong side of the highway and crash into a van causing the deaths of several people, you will be charged with vehicular manslaughter even though it was not your intention to kill anyone.
Four Essential Elements
1. Be specific about what you are apologizing for. Make sure your tone of voice
“ I am sorry that I yelled at you when you picked up your cell phone at dinner.”
2. State in what way your behavior may have impacted your partner.
“I would imagine that you probably felt scared and criticized by my outburst.”
3. Briefly explain what happened, without blaming your partner.
“I think I feel slighted and unimportant when you pick up your phone during dinner.”
4. State your intention to work on the problem and make a request for change.
“I promise to tone it down in the future when I feel this way. Would it be possible, however, for us to discuss boundaries around phone usage in the future?”
Books and Book Chapters
Cinemeducation: A Comprehensive Guide to Using Film in Medical Education
Edited by Matthew Alexander, Patricia Lenahan and Anna Pavlov
Originally published by Radcliffe Publishing, Oxford, England; Seattle, Washington: 2005
ISBN # 1 85775 692 4
This book provides medical and graduate educators with an innovative and effective cinema-based curriculum useful for teaching a broad array of topics. It is also useful for psychotherapists who wish to use cinema in their counseling as well as high school and college teachers who address psychological and social issues in their classrooms.
The book covers important areas in medical education such as chronic illness, disabilities, chemical dependency, cultural diversity, mental disorders and the doctor-patient relationship cataloguing over 450 scenes from 125 popular movies on video with relevant descriptions and trigger questions for leading group discussion.
“Cinemeducation is a marvelous tool that is entirely user friendly. Alexander, Lenahan and Pavlov have captured an amazing array of significant small scenes from a large variety of films, cameos illustrating crucial moments and interactions. I know how hard it is to capture learners’ attention and to break through the reluctance to deal with uncomfortable situations. Using the material that can be found in this volume we will all have a much easier and successful time”
– Marian R. Stuart in the foreword
“I expect that this book will stimulate a significant increase in the use of film clips in medical education, at medical schools, residencies and with continuing professional education”
– Thomas L. Campbell in the foreword
Cinemeducation: A Comprehensive Guide to Using Film in Medical Educationcan be ordered directly from the publisher at (800) 247-6553 or on Amazon.com. The book can also be ordered directly from your local bookstore by using the ISBN number.
Cinemeducation: Using Film and Other Visual Media in Graduate and Medical Education (Volume 2).
Edited by Matthew Alexander, Patricia Lenahan and Anna Pavlov.
Originally published by Radcliffe Publishing, London, England; New York, New York: 2012.
ISBN – 13: 978 184619 507 5
This book expands the scope of the previous book on cinemeducation by including chapters on the use of YouTube, television and music videos in graduate and medical education. It is extensive and international in scope, including multiple chapters written by physician educators on topics such as cardiology, cancer and sports medicine as well as chapters on mental health topics such as the Myers Briggs Test, the Enneagram, loss and bereavement and burnout.
“This book is a welcome contribution that brings together an impressive number of enthusiasts who write about using films with illustrative clips to teach a wide variety of subjects ranging from what movies mean to the viewer and the teacher to family functioning and the impact of specific diseases. In so doing, the book encourages teachers and students alike not only to learn but also to have fun at the same time.”
Professor Susan Bailey, in her Foreword.
“Everyone learns from movies. No other art form recreates life as vividly as film. This second edition of Cinemeducation greatly expands the scope of situations and experience by presenting an amazing array of films and other visual media for medical education. This book is a library unto itself and will serve as a valuable and fun resource for medical educators.”
– Dr. Joseph Scherger in his Foreword.
Cinemeducation:Using Film and Other Visual Media in Graduate and Medical Education can be ordered directly from the publisher at www.radcliffepublishing.com, by calling (800) 247-6553 or by ordering directly from your local bookstore by using the ISBN number.
Listen to Dr. Alexander’s conversation with Stephanie Lockwood about real life Hollywood romanceson the podcast Stay Happily Married. (Click here to open audio player in a new window.)
Peer Reviewed Articles
In refereed journals
Alexander, M., Quereshi, S. The Unhappily Married Patient, American Family Physician, in-press, Spring 2019
Alexander, M, The Couple’s Odyssey: Hollywood’s Take on Love Relationships, International Review of Psychiatry, 06/09; 21: 1-6.
Alexander, M, Waxman D, White P. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape: A Case Study of Illness. Journal for Learning through the Arts: A Research Journal on Arts Integration in Schools and Communities. 2007; Vol.2: No.1, Article 13.
Burkhardt N, Roberts M, Alexander M, Dodds A. Communicating Effectively with Patients Suspected of Having Bulimia Nervosa. Journal of the American Dental Association 2005; 136(8):1130-37.
Alexander M. The Doctor: A Seminal Video for Cinemeducation.Family Medicine 2002; 34(2):92-4.
Hall M, Pettice Y, Robinson M, Alexander M. Teaching Smoking Cessation to Family Practice Residents: An Experiential Approach.Family Medicine 1996;28:331-6.
Alexander M. Cinemeducation: An Innovative Approach to Teaching Multi-Cultural Diversity in Medicine.Annals of Behavioral Science and Medical Education 1995;2(1):23-8.
For complete list, download Dr. Alexander’s Curriculum Vitae: malexander-cv.pdf[PDF, 354kb].