Marriage Class Online


Who is Dr. Fiore?

Dr. Tony Fiore is a licensed psychologist, marriage therapist, author, and anger management expert who practices in Southern California. In his clinical practice and his online educational products, Dr. Fiore has helped hundreds of couples reduce marital conflict, increase understanding and communication, and acquire better skills to deal with each other.

Tony is the father of three children and has been with his wife Pamela for 21 years who also assists him in both his clinical practice and their educational products business. They enjoy traveling together, especially to South America, where they may retire in the future.

When not working, Dr Tony enjoys gardening, reading, and surfing the internet. For self-development, diversion and relaxation, he is currently taking piano lessons and Spanish lessons.


Who can benefit from the course?

This course is appropriate for couples in various stages of their relationship including:

  • Pre-married couples who want to work out relationship issues before taking the final step.
  • Young married (or cohabiting) couples who have too much conflict and want to improve things before their relationship deteriorates further.
  • Long-term married people who may be on the verge of divorce, but want to try every possible avenue of help first.
  • Any couple who is experiencing relationship problems
  • Individuals in a troubled relationship in which the partner will not participate.
  • Individuals who want to improve, develop good relationship habits and be better people.


What are some of the symptoms of at-risk marriages?

According to famous marital research at the Gottman Institute in Seattle Washington, there are four things that predict divorce with a high degree of accuracy. The Gottmans call these the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse." The horsemen are:

  • Stonewalling - emotionally shutting down or being emotionally unavailable to your partner.
  • Criticism - Too much negativity without a balance of "positivity" brings down a relationship.
  • Defensiveness - Defensive partners are unable to accept influence from their mates, which leads to poor communication and roadblocks to healthy change and growth.
  • Contempt - A contemptuous partner sees their mate as less-than or inferior to them. It is complete loss of respect for the partner.


How much anger should I express/is healthy?

Anger is normal in any relationship including intimate relationships. The answer to the question of "how much" depends on many things such as HOW it is expressed, and how your partner reacts when you do express it. Some partners are devastated if you even raise your voice, while others can tolerate even certain kinds of explosive outbursts without getting unduly upset. Problems usually arise when partners have different levels of tolerance for anger.

Of course, physical violence or physical or verbal abuse is never to be tolerated. However, honest expression of angry feelings done correctly can be very healthy both for the individual and the relationship. In fact, suppressing angry feelings for long periods of time can be bad for your health and your marriage because "burying feelings" can lead to deep resentment from which it is difficult to recover.

Few marriages can sustain long periods of pouting or angry emotional withdrawal. Even fewer marriages can survive constant irrational mean-spirited outbursts of anger, degrading contempt or raging criticism.

Bottom line is successful couples develop the skill of handling anger and angry feelings appropriately in their relationship so that they are not ignored, but neither are they allowed to run amok to the extent that they kill love or destroy the relationship.


How can I take action on a troubled marriage without admitting defeat?

Start by looking in the mirror. If you are not getting what you want or need out of the marriage, ask yourself if you are acting like those people who do get they need or want. For instance, if you are a wife who's husband doesn't discuss his day with you, ask yourself if you are behaving like other women who do get their husbands to talk to them about their day. If the answer is "no," then try to change what you are doing to get more of what you want.


If my partner isn't co-operative or doesn't appreciate the situation, what can I do?

It is common in troubled marriages for one of the partners to be unhappier in the marriage than the other. The unhappy or dissatisfied one is usually more motivated and eager to work on things than the other—who may not even agree that there is a problem. (Or, they see a different problem.)

Sometimes you need to take matters into your own hands to change the "dynamics" of your relationship. Some common strategies to help you do this include the following:

  • Re-examine your own behavior. Stop nagging, threatening, criticizing or "withholding" emotional rewards because your partner won't do what you would like them to.
  • Take small steps. Look for positive, reasonable actions you might take to fix the problem, rather than escalating the situation. The basic idea here is that if what you are doing now isn't working, then try something else (within reason) instead of doing what doesn't work over and over again.
  • Observe. Look around and then ask yourself this simple question: If you know some other couples who are getting out of their marriage what you would like to have from your marriage, how does their behavior differ from yours? What are they doing different that could account for their success? Then, try changing your approach and see what happens!


What can I do on my own if my partner doesn't want to undergo marital counseling?

Unfortunately, some people just don't believe in marriage counseling, especially men (about 70% of marriage counseling referrals are initiated by women.) In fact, on the average, men generally don't go to any kind of health care professional as frequently or as soon as women do.

Some people resist professional help for their marriage because they feel they should be able to fix things on their own, or they are fearful that the therapist will identify them as the major problem in the marriage dysfunction.

The fact is both people don't necessary have to participate in marriage counseling for the marriage to improve. Even if both partners are willing to attend, the therapist will often see them separately, at least some of the time. Good therapists teach their clients specific marital skills needed to improve things, the learning of which doesn't necessarily require both partners to be in the counseling room together.


How much does conventional marriage counseling cost?

Professional marriage counseling is often done by a variety of professions, so the cost will depend on which professional you go to. Faith-based counselors can often be seen at no charge, if you are one of their members. Other qualified professionals include psychologists, psychiatrists, marriage and family therapists (MFTs), nurses and clinical social workers. A typical cost is up to several hundred dollars an hour. Some insurances cover marriage therapy, but many do not.


What are some alternatives to marriage counseling?

Marriage Education is an alternative to marriage therapy, especially as a first step. Many marriages fail because the partners simply don't know how to be in the marriage to make it work. They don't have the skills, or the knowledge to succeed, so they keep on doing things that don't work, or that make the marriage worse.

Marriage Class Online is written by an experienced psychologist, marriage therapist and anger management expert who has seen hundreds of couples in his therapy practice. Much of the material is adapted from new research findings in marriage therapy, neuroscience, and positive psychology. In this program we teaches you the numerous tools, skills and skill-builders you need to improve your marriage or relationship, decrease your anger, and emotionally connect with your partner.


How much time should is involved when I take this course?

Marriage Class Online is a self-paced program that probably takes the average person about 8 hours to complete. It starts with an online marriage quiz to test and then improve your knowledge of successful marriage. After that, it contains scores of practical, useful and effective tools and skills to improve communication, decrease anger and conflict, and feel closer to each other again. To enhance your learning and make it more interesting and enjoyable, the program is presented in multi-media including colorful graphics, numerous videos, and MP3 audios.


Is online anger marriage counseling available?

Unfortunately, not at this time.


What other anger management resources are available?

If anger is a significant issue in your relationship, you may need specific anger management classes in addition to marital therapy or marital education. Local classes may be available in your community. You can find them by Googling "anger+classes+_______", (name of your city).

You can also go to www.angercertification.com and click the "Providers" link at the top of the page. These people are certified anger management professionals.

A third option is to take either Dr Fiore's 10 hour or 16 hour online anger management program. For more information, pricing, or sign-up, go to www.angercoachonline.com


What's the link between marital distress and anger management?

Healthy anger expressed in the right way and experienced in the right way by your partner can actually be a good thing in a marriage. Unfortunately, certain kinds of anger and anger expression can also destroy a relationship. Examples of destructive anger might include verbal or physical aggression, contempt, defensive anger, and passive aggression. Passive Aggression involves expressing hostility in an underhanded way so that it is not obvious that is what you are doing. Sarcasm, mean-spirited jokes or criticism at your partner's expense, and sabotage are typical passive-aggressive mechanisms that can bring down any relationship if done long enough.

Destructive anger can also be in the form of pouting and withdrawal. This simmering anger can be just under the surface for years, erupting only occasionally. After a while, the couple stops talking about it, but it is always there, like the proverbial elephant in the room that nobody acknowledges. A couple in this pattern does not necessarily fight or conflict, but experience emotional distance and lack of emotional connection.


What can /should I do if I think my partner has a personality disorder?

Personality disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions in which a person's long-term (chronic) behaviors, emotions, and thoughts are very different from their culture's expectations and cause serious problems with relationships and work. Symptoms vary widely depending on the type of personality disorder. In general, personality disorders involve feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that do not adapt to a wide range of settings. These patterns usually begin in adolescence and may lead to problems in social and work situations. The severity of these conditions ranges from mild to severe.

An example might be a "narcissistic personality disorder" which causes people to have an inflated sense of self-importance and an extreme preoccupation with themselves. They often react to criticism with rage, shame, or humiliation and often take advantage of other people (like their partners) to achieve his or her own goals.

They have a constant need of attention and admiration, and limited ability to feel empathy toward their spouse.

If a personality disorder exists, traditional marriage therapy is very difficult because the disorder often interferes with the process. Each situation is different and needs to be evaluated by a trained therapist:

  • Many marital therapists will refer the partner with the personality disorder to another therapist for individual treatment of the disorder before continuing marriage therapy.
  • Other times, marriage therapy and individual therapy can occur simultaneously.
  • Some marriage partners refuse to even enter marriage therapy until their partner undergoes individual therapy to improve the personality disorder.


What if my partner abuses alcohol or drugs?

Most marriage therapists will not see a couple for marriage therapy if alcohol or drug abuse issues are currently preeminent. (This does not apply to recovering people).

Before marriage therapy can begin, the abuse or dependency issue must be dealt with on a personal level.

Among mental health professionals, partners who accept abuse or dependency (or worse, takes responsibility or blame for it), are known as "codependent." People who encourage or arrange married life so that the abuser can continue his or her behavior without having to change are "enablers."


It is possible to live with an alcoholic or drug abuser, but who wants to?

Most healthy people at some point draw a line regarding how much alcohol or drug use/abuse and associated behaviors can be tolerated in the relationship. This should be done before marriage therapy is started and the problem partner should be referred to an appropriate program.


Why does my partner continue to do things that they know irritates me?

There are several possible reasons for this behavior. Following are some common ones:

  • Blame-shifting. Your partner may think that their "irritating" behavior is normal, but your reaction to it is not.
  • Habitual. Your partner may not be able to change the behavior that bothers you because it is too engrained in his/her personality.
  • Power. Your partner may not want to change the thing even if he could because he/she may see a change as "giving in" to you and they want to maintain the power struggle.


How long does it take for average person to progress from the decision to divorce to legally divorced?

Research shows that the average person waits three-four years after deciding to divorce to actually do it. They often use this time to put their life in order.

Unfortunately, their partners very often don't have a clue and are shocked when the divorce actually occurs. In many situations the shock intensifies because they perceived things as actually improving during the period in which their partner had made up their mind.


Should partners confess affairs?

If you asked 100 therapists this question, you would probably get a 50%-50% split on the answer.

One group would say that the marriage should have 100% honesty or else it won't succeed.

The other group would say that confessing may help relieve the guilt of the cheater, but now the burden of dealing with it is transferred onto the partner/victim; in effect, they call confession a selfish act which further victimizing your partner.

Fact is, many partners are incapable of getting past it due to the extreme violation of trust and shakeup of the marital foundation that occurs with knowledge of an affair.

Of course, there are many shades and variations surrounding the issue. What is an "affair"? How long ago did it occur? Was it ongoing or a one-time occurrence? What was the status of the marriage during the affair? (Living together? Separated?). Did your partner discover it or do you feel a need to confess out of the blue? Do you still love your partner? Do you love the other person?

Often a professional therapist is needed to help you decide what to do that would be best for you, your partner and your family.

How can I tell if my anger or marital problems come from (originates in) my desire to control too much or be controlled too much

Control issues refer to who is perceived as being in control, who's in charge, or who's "getting their way." What's at stake is the power in the relationship and how differences are resolved.

It's impossible to completely avoid all control issues in a relationship. Whether you have serious control problems in your marriage will depend on the frequency and intensity of the control issues that arise.

Significant control issues are harmful to a relationship. For instance, when control issues are present, the result may be that husband and wife become more like parent and child to each other.

Another common dysfunctional pattern is for control issues to lead to partners who are overly competitive with each other; this can decrease intimacy and emotional closeness.


How can we tell when anger is affecting our sex life?

At times, healthy release of anger can actually enhance sexual desire and sexual performance. But, brooding resentments or underlying hostility toward your mate or something they have done can have the opposite affect-that of killing sexual desire. This may be more true in women than in men.

Some couples find they are constantly angry toward their partners specifically because of their sexual issues. Research shows that when sexual frustration is an issue, it is on the minds of the partners a very high percentage of the time, even though they may rarely talk about it. It pervades all aspects of their relationship. Simple things may escalate into major battles: for instance, the casual remark "I'm going to bed early" is translated by the other to "that means he/she is avoiding having sex again."

Of course, anger over sexual frustration usually makes the problem worse because hardly anyone feels like having sex with an angry partner while they are angry. (Think wanting to make love to a porcupine). Yet, what is the sexually frustrated partner to do with all their sexual energy and sexual desire?

Obviously this is a complicated question that often requires professional help to solve. There are now numerous medical as well as psychological treatments available to treat sexual dysfunction. Starting with marriage education or marital therapy is a good idea. Rather than becoming angry or holding underlying resentment, try to view the issue as "our problem" to be worked on together rather than narrowly seeing it as "his" or "her" problem.


Should married couples merge their finances or keep their finances separate?

There are many different ways for couples to handle their finances which may or may not work for that particular couple. Some partners completely merge their earnings and bills while others keep things so separated that partner do not even know how much the other earns or what their bills are.

How you do it is not nearly as important as merging your expectations on how best to proceed so both partners are comfortable with the arrangement.


How can we differ on parental strategies without adding conflict to our marriage?

Differences in parenting styles can indeed contribute significantly to relationship conflict. These differences are very common and don't necessarily have to lead to conflict if handled properly.

To avoid conflict the first rule is to not indicate disagreement or contradict your partner in the presence of the children. Among other negative affects, this often causes your partner to have to save face in front of the children and entrench themselves further into their stance with which you disagree. Instead, privately discuss the issue and come to agreement before presenting it to the children.

Many partners also find it helpful to write down on paper the rules of the house you both agree upon so that if there is some question about what to do, you can refer to the paper instead of arguing with each other.


What is the best time to consider marriage therapy or marriage education?

The short answer is "before things get out of hand." Many couples wait too long to seek professional help which decreases the probability of success.

Review the four signs of "marriages at risk" described above and take action if your marriage has two or more risk factors occurring on a regular basis.

Many pre-married couples also seek professional help to deal with their issues before they tie the knot. Better to know what you are getting into before total commitment, than to feel "stuck" with the issues in a long term marriage with many more complications.


Is it a bad sign if we frequently disagree before we're married?

All couples disagree on issues. Research shows the average number of issues that couples conflict over is about ten.

The bad sign is NOT frequently disagreeing, but rather how you handle the disagreements with each other. Specifically, being able to accept the differences in each other, rather than trying to change each other, and looking for ways to live with each other despite the differences is one of the major keys to a successful relationship.


Is it OK to marry potential? (Do you think I can help them change?)

In my experience, it is VERY risky to marry potential.

I advise people to instead have the attitude "what you see is what you get." If you can't live with it now, please don't assume you can change it. Things may change, but don't count on it. (Your partner may in fact like themselves as they are and have no intention of changing).

Your job is not to transform your partner into what you would like them to be. You cannot control if this happens or not, so you shouldn't pin your love or marriage hopes and dreams on it.


Are all marital problems solvable if there's enough love?

Marriage research shows that up to 69% of relationship issues are "perpetual" or non-changeable. This means many of the issues you are conflicting over now probably have always been there-and probably always will be. Trying to "solve" unsolvable relationship issues leads to frustration and anger.

It's better to focus on what is changeable and find a way to live around the unchangeable issues.


What do I do if my partner is more interested in working than being with me?

People who put nothing into their relationship except finances cannot expect the marriage to emotionally survive.

If you are married to a person who is puts little or no effort into your relationship, but you nonetheless want to stay married to them, your best strategy might be as follows:

  • Stop nagging (if you are)
  • Try to slowly build a personal life outside of the marriage filled with friends, activities, and interests that satisfy your emotional needs that are not being met by your partner.
  • Paradoxically, this may result in your partner deciding to be with you more often.


Are more people living together instead of marrying these days?

Yes. Marriage is losing ground to a grinding economic slowdown that has prompted more couples to live together without tying the knot.

The share of couples who are not married has risen in many places but is highest in areas that offer many people grim prospects for a better financial future: old industrial cities and the Mississippi Delta.

Unmarried couples made up 12% of U.S. couples in 2010, a 25% increase in 10 years, according to recent census data.


Are People staying married longer than they used to?

Americans may be postponing marriage, and fewer are wedding at all. But what about the people who do get married? They're staying together longer than they have in years.

Three in four couples who married after 1990 celebrated a 10-year anniversary, according to census statistics reported recently. That was a rise of three percentage points compared with couples who married in the early 1980s, when the nation's divorce rate was at its highest.


What is the main predictor of marriage success?

Marriage has become a more selective institution in today's society. People who are college-educated, more affluent, or more religious are more likely to get married and stay married. People who are not are less likely to get married in the first place, and if they do marry, they're more likely to divorce.

A Marriage Project has found that people without a college degree are three times as likely to divorce in the first 10 years as those with a college degree.



Thank you for reading this far, and congratulations on your intention to address the causes of your marital unhappiness. I extent best wishes for your success as you move forward.


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