There are a group of learnable skills that support healthy relationships: Speaking with Respect, Listening to Understand, Skillful Dialogues, Effective Problem Solving Methods, Beliefs that produce healthy experience, and for step-families, Strategies that have been proven by research to help step-families succeed. I love giving individuals and couples the skills to improve, and then enjoy, their relationships through my books, newsletter, blogs, and personal coaching.
About Nancy Landrum
Experiencing the love relationship of your life turn to ashes is excruciatingly painful. Watching the high hopes and dreams for this precious relationship begin to fade and die is almost unbearable. Starting out a great friends and passionate lovers, but finding yourself, instead, as cool roommates or vicious fighters is way beyond disappointing. It is heart-breaking. When my husband and I found ourselves in this desperate condition, we began searching for answers. This answers included learning how to speak our truth to each other but with respect and compassion, It included drawing a line in the sand, so to speak, and committing ourselves to always treating each other with kindness. We chose solutions that worked for our step-family. Our love was reborn! I know how to help you find solutions that meet the needs of both partners. You really can navigate the tricky waters of a damaged relationship and find new skills and practices that encourage your relationship to thrive. We did! And through my classes, coaching and books I've seen many other couples thrive, as well.
I also have personal experience with the process of learning how to remain healthy and sane when a dear loved one is a practicing addict.
Nancy Landrum Success Stories
A Therapist's Marriage Saved
Couples considering divorce
Susan led a support group for convicted felons in a prison. One of the guy's wife was reading "How to Stay Married & Love It! Solving the Puzzle of a SoulMate Marriage" and sharing what she was learning with her husband during visits. While in the group, he raved about what they were learning and how it was impacting their marriage. more
Susan bought the book because she and her husband were struggling. After reading it and applying key pieces taught in the book, their marriage began to improve. Shortly afterward she emailed me with their appreciation.
She also shared "How to..." with a friend who's marriage was on the brink of divorce. A few weeks later she saw that couple at a party where they were affectionate and laughing...evidently no longer considering divorce.
Susan is exploring ways to bring the easy-reading and practical information from "How to..." into the prison populations where so little relationship help is available.
Adult Children at Home
Couples in crisis
Ann and Barry (not their names) had been married seven years. He had no previous marriages or children. Ann was a widow with three half-grown children when they married. more
Barry was unprepared for the role of step-father. He expected to be a dad with full rights to discipline and have his perspective on issues respected. He was offended when at family gatherings Ann's family would lament the passing of her late (alcoholic) husband and seem to ignore the benefits that he brought to Ann and her children, including financial stability.
Ann's children variously married, joined the military, and entered adulthood. But when problems occurred, Ann welcomed them back home. Barry enjoyed building a relationship with two step-grandchildren, but frequently complained to Ann about her children's sense of entitlement. He wanted their appreciation and respect shown for the free room and board they were providing, but mostly he wanted them gone.
In session they began learning how to speak without using methods or trigger words that elicited negative reactions. They learned to listen with the intention to understand from the other's point of view. Ann began to see that her degree of care-taking may not be in her childrens' best interests. Barry tried to curb his criticisms.
The breakthrough came when they worked a specific problem solving strategy around her son living at home after his return from active duty. They agreed on the terms of his leaving and the deadline. Barry began to feel like he had a voice, which felt like a breath of life-giving air to him. Soon the issue of her daughter and the two grandchildren was also resolved in a way that satisfied both of their needs.
Currently they are reclaiming their marriage by regular dates (without children or grandchildren) and planning their remaining years together as a couple.
A Step-Couple Back from the Brink
Couples in crisis
This was the third marriage for both Gavin and Pamela. They had been best friends in junior high and high school, then went their separate ways. They had each struggled through extremely dysfunctional previous marriages that included spouses with addictions and domestic violence. When they'd married four years before I met them, they each had two children. One child was the subject of a nasty custody battle. more
Gavin's parenting style is very structured, somewhat rule oriented. Pamela's is very loose and more relationship oriented. They thought they would co-parent all four children, but found themselves constantly criticizing each other's parenting and undermining each other's authority. As with past relationships, the conflicts deteriorated into violent shouting matches. When one of their teens called the cops during one of their fights, they knew they needed help. I saw them about two weeks later.
After listening to their respective views about what was happening, and seeing the interaction between them, I knew there was a lot of basic love and trust at the heart of their messy relationship. They just didn't know how to be a stepfamily.
They agreed to the first, essential step which was to each parent their own children independently and to stop all criticism of each other and each other's children. (This guideline has been shown by research to be one of the key pieces to help stepfamilies succeed. Differences in parenting is one of the primary causes of step-couple divorces.) Their immdiate compliance with this step brought instant relief. The entire household began to relax.
Then they enrolled in a class I had beginning shortly afterward where functional, respectful communication and problem solving methods were taught. They dilligently applied themselves to learning those skills and practicing them in every conversation. I continued to occasionally see them in person as they applied what they'd learned to their relationships.
The new skills helped them navigate issues like how much money were they each free to spend on their respective children, which house rules applied to everyone, and which rules were unique to his or her children, how to spend holidays, how to deal with a crazy Ex, how to make sure their marriage thrived along with the family.
In 2012 I officiated at their marriage vow renewal ceremony. They say that they know they will be together until parted by death. Their children are seeing a healthy marriage modeled for the first time in their lives. Gradually their parenting methods have somewhat melded so there is less need for distinction between his and hers.
They are a Poster Couple for successful step-families!