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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ...  (More)

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Santa Says . . . Only Two in Marriage

Uploaded: Sep 15, 2016
I met Santa today (or at least he looks like Santa), and I asked him what make a marriage last. There were two things Santa told me that he believes are the key ingredients.

First, have two in your marriage, not six (her parents/his parents – or hers and hers/his and his). When you commit to your beloved, your relationship becomes your top priority, and you have to let go of having your parents guide you. This doesn’t mean you can’t talk to your parents, or even ask for advice now and then. But it does mean that your parents don’t guide or control your relationship. It means having your partner be your best friend, not your mom or dad. It means choosing your relationship over the pull of your families.

Don’t get me wrong – I am pro-family. I am just a little bit more pro-couple.

Not only did Santa share this tidbit of wisdom with me, I know it’s a huge problem for certain couples because I’ve heard so much about it in the therapy room. And I’ve seen it across cultures. In cultures where it is implicit that you are supposed to honor your elders, it can be more complicated to make the shift to your partner.

All of you were influenced by the family you grew up in – that’s just the way it is. You saw, listened, and noticed your parent’s marriage (and/or divorce), and that influence carries over into adult relationships. You need to do the work to understand your family system, and each others’ family system, and learn:

- What do you want to keep?
- What don’t you want to continue?
- Who is driving your relationship?
- What values and principles will you abide by in this marriage?
- How to deal with in-laws needs, requests, demands.
- Essentially, what works for BOTH of you?

Santa’s second tip is to spend time together doing things you both enjoy, and spend time apart doing things you each enjoy separately.

Be a whole person; come to your marriage as two whole people. Then, 1 + 1 = more than 2. Rather than being needy (although all of you need and deserve care, love, respect, etc.), being whole allows your relationship to be the frosting on the cake. Sweet. And when you need one another you are the top priority.

Thanks for talking, Santa.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Offended, a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda,
on Sep 15, 2016 at 11:47 pm

I would have appreciated a trigger warning for this post. I was once in a relationship and now I am not and I have suffered a lot of trauma and reading this post makes me relive all my pain. It is very difficult for me now to go on with my night and I have tried to sleep but I can't.

Before writing anything you should think about all the people who might have suffered trauma similar to the topic you are writing about and issue trigger warnings prior to publishing, or better yet, avoid writing about those subjects. Some subjects such as this one should be off limits for writing about because we know so many people have suffered.

Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 16, 2016 at 8:48 am

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Hi Offended, I certainly did not mean to offend you. I am so sorry you had a trauma in the past. I wonder if you've sought help from a therapist or clergy person to help and support you. I wish I could issue trigger warnings; there's no telling who will be triggered and who will find it helpful. Please take care of yourself, though.

Posted by stephanie, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Sep 16, 2016 at 12:59 pm

You are correct, you do not have control over your reading audience, but maybe less is better. Sometimes people just need to get things off there chest. Your article was very innocent, so just saying I am sorry without advise, and defensive reaction would have just dropped the whole thing. There is so much criticism going on every day, I think it keeps getting more and more difficult to even have a conversation.

I Liked your article and thank you.

Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 16, 2016 at 1:45 pm

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Hi Stephanie, Thanks for letting me know you liked my article.

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Sep 16, 2016 at 3:15 pm

No one can please everyone all the time. That's a simple fact of life, not just a rule for writers on the Internet.

In the end, it's up to you as an adult to choose what to read and if you don't like something/someone/someplace/whatever, it's up to you to stop reading it.

One thing is for sure, if you don't want to read about relationship problems, then don't read blogs written by therapists because they are going to write about relationship problems. That's what they get paid to solve. Therapists don't treat people who don't have problems.

No one forced you to turn on your computer, to watch a particular TV show, or to read a particular novel or magazine article. As an adult, it is up to you to decide how to use your time and attention, whether it's having your third pumpkin spice latte of the day, a beer, a smoothie, or a glass of water.

As for writers, if you don't like negative commentary on the Internet, it's worth considering whether to make your blog private.

As Internet usage progresses, more people will find more opportunities to say what they want to say regardless of how others might interpret their writing.

Anyhow, hope everyone has a good weekend.

Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 16, 2016 at 3:34 pm

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Good points, Reader.

Posted by Sheri, a resident of Midtown,
on Sep 16, 2016 at 7:57 pm

Chandrama, thank you for your article. For those who are so emotionally weak that they cannot stand to read it, I say, "get tough"! I have no patience with them.

I happen to be part of 1+4 = 5, which means that I am part of a plural marriage. Like all marriages, we have our issues, but I sense that we are more content than many monogamous (1+1=2)marriages. We all share a great man, in so many ways. Have you considered the plural marriage option, Chandrama?

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Sep 16, 2016 at 8:11 pm

Actually, if you can't stand to read this article, I'd say that's good evidence of DENIAL and THE READER should be actively seeking therapeutic help.

By the time we reach adulthood, we've ALL have bad relationships in our lives. Chandrama has no insight into "Offended"'s case and there's no way for someone like Chandrama to predict when a person like "Offended" is going to read this type of article. As a matter of fact, having a strong emotional reaction to an article like this is probably some sort of indicator.

The main goal of having children is to raising them to be self-sufficient adults. As an adult, you are ultimately responsible for the daily decisions that mold your well-being.

Society offers a multitude of resources for people in need, however it is ultimately the responsiblity of the affected party to communicate sufficiently to ensure he/she gets the type of treatment necessary.

Chandrama can't help everyone on this planet with relationship problems. By writing this blog, she can reach out beyond her daily contacts and make some readers that they may need to seek counsel should they identify with the scenarios described in her various posts.

If you are "offended" by Chandrama's post, you should look deep inside yourself and figure out if you need help in putting your mind into a better place.

Sorry to be so blunt, but anyone protests, I've probably elicited more awareness than silence.

Have a great weekend everyone! Go Giants!

Posted by SEA_SEELAM REDDY, a resident of College Terrace,
on Sep 17, 2016 at 5:02 am

SEA_SEELAM REDDY is a registered user.

This is a great subject and the advise given is wise.

Sorry that one of the readers feel bad.

The key to successful marriage is respect for each other and we call it LOVE. It is nice to love and be loved.

We all know how we have babies and unequivocally love them, raise them and cherish them despite their attitudes etc. Same goes with couples; we need to be human and love them.

Some one told me that that happy marriages are those when both parties have hobbies, passion on their own; the spouse that does not bug/expect/depend too much.

Its still worth it and cherish your partner.


Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 17, 2016 at 12:07 pm

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Hi Sheri, Thanks for your comments. I think you were a bit tough on Offended. None of us have control of a "reaction" as the word itself implies. The limbic, or emotional, brain fires in 1/200th of a second. That doesn't make anyone weak. It what you do with it once you're triggered that leads to different outcomes. I haven't thought of plural marriage for myself, and I know many people have wonderful plural relationships. If it works for those involved, and is healthy for everyone, great. If there are power imbalances, or people feel coerced, then not fine.

Posted by Jane , a resident of another community,
on Sep 18, 2016 at 10:11 am

Hi Chandrama, thank you for the article. Will you follow Offended's call to put down your pen and self censor yourself from writing about relationships?

Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 18, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

You're welcome, Jane. I will continue to write about relationships. We are each called to our work in one way or another, and this is definitely one of my callings. My hope is to help as many people with relationships as possible. This is part of that. Also, I hope that people will seek support when needed.

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Sep 18, 2016 at 3:07 pm


Chandrama is a relationship therapist. That's what she gets paid to do and that's what she wants to blog about. What topic do you want her to switch to? The 49ers? The Raiders? Palo Alto parking regulations? Underwater basket weaving?

This is completely nuts.


There are plenty of other blogs on this planet. Go read some blog about World of Warcraft or tamale making.

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Sep 18, 2016 at 3:16 pm


"Hi Chandrama, thank you for the article. Will you follow Offended's call to put down your pen and self censor yourself from writing about relationships?"

As a matter of fact, this has got to be one of the unbelievably selfish things I've ***EVER*** read on the Internet.

Basically Jane, you are asking people to only do things that you approve of. This is SO ludicrously self-centered, it's hard to even fathom how to process a request like this.

Hey everyone, let's only do what Jane thinks is right. She knows better than anyone on the planet what people should be focused upon.

Completely detached from reality, so scary that there are people like this.

Posted by Bill, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Sep 18, 2016 at 8:45 pm

LOL. I would give eight to five odds that "Offended" is just trolling. Well done!

Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 18, 2016 at 8:52 pm

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Reader, I don't think Jane was encouraging me to stop writing. She thanked me for the article, and was asking if I would stop writing per Offended's request. And all, please lets get back to the topic of the post itself.

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Sep 18, 2016 at 10:02 pm


Jane asked you to stop writing about relationships. That's essentially asking you to stop writing.

This is world class denial. If you want, go ahead and do what Jane wants: which is to terminate writing about relationships.

Again, this is incredibly nuts.

I'm bowing out of this discussion, you people are on your own. I don't get paid to blog or comment, you have seen the last of me.

Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 19, 2016 at 9:06 am

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Hey Reader, I hope you won't actually go away. It's hard enough communicating face-to-face, and written can lead to even more misunderstandings. I am going to write. I am not censoring myself, nor will I be censored. I'm glad you're writing in.

Posted by Duveneck Dude, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Sep 21, 2016 at 5:17 pm

Chandrama, this is one of your best-written columns. A nice followup would be a how-to deal with the past participants affecting a marriage. Easier said than done.

Bill, a fellow Duveneck gent, is right. The "trigger-warning" device is a signature for a troll, probably high school age, who prowls these blogs. Ignore him or her.

Reader, Jane's comment is ambiguous, possibly deliberately so.

Would be nice if people weighed in on the central issue, which has the right focus--how to have a clean relationship with a partner/spouse/lover.

Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 22, 2016 at 8:53 am

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Hi Duveneck Dude, Please clarify what you mean by " past participants" who affect a marriage? Parents? Thanks.

Posted by Ricky jones, a resident of Bailey Park,
on Sep 25, 2016 at 11:31 am

Nice article to read. Keep sharing and posting.

Posted by Sarah Sullivan, a resident of another community,
on Oct 14, 2016 at 9:37 pm

Chandrama, I love your writing and willingness to share via your blog. You give me hope for dealing more lovingly with my large, extended, three-generational family, of which I am one of the matriarchs. Thank you!

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