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Monday, 18 September 2000

The Ph.D: Keeping Score

Written by  Michael Tobin

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The Ph.D: Keeping Score

There are three partners in a marriage: husband, wife, and relationship. If either partner focuses on his or her own needs exclusively, the relationship will suffer. Yes, there are situations in a marriage where one partner may need to make a sacrifice. The question in this drama is -- is the wife sacrificing too much?

Julie, 25 and Andre, 26, have been married for three years. Julie is a pre-school teacher and Andre is a computer programmer who has just been accepted into a doctoral program at Johns Hopkins.

Now Andre wants to move. Julie feels resentful -- her needs are being neglected. She feels that she may have to give too much -- and lose out as a result.

However, whether they should or should not move so that Andre can attend graduate school is not the real issue. The problem here is the fact that Andre made a unilateral decision. For a marriage to succeed both partners must realize that that they are not free to act as if they have no commitments to anyone else. Every decision that a partner in a relationship makes, regardless of its magnitude, affects the other. For a relationship to succeed we must be aware of the effect that our decisions and actions have on our partners.

This is a lesson that Andre needs to learn if his marriage is going to survive. You don't drop a bombshell like this on your partner. You listen to her fears and resentments and make an effort to understand her feelings. This is a big decision and emotions that accompany it must be dealt with.

The subtext to what Andre and Julie are REALLY thinking is included in the text of the drama.

Read the Drama!

Last modified on Monday, 23 May 2011 05:44
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Michael Tobin

Michael Tobin

Dr. Michael Tobin has been a psychologist since 1974, specializing in marital and family therapy. He is the author of numerous articles on marriage and family relationships and is the founder of WholeFamily.com. He's  been married to Deborah for 38 years and is the father of four children and grandfather to five.

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