Helping Nonprofit Leaders Transform Conflict

Leadership Coach and Mediator

Do you need to be an expert at marriage to write about it?

Can you write about something when you are failing at it more often than you like?

When I started blogging, I wanted to write about marriage (as in any intimate, romantic, long-term relationship). I am passionate about any relationship, and marriage seems the pinnacle of relationships. Marriage was the topic of my heart.

Image courtesy to Deviantart

As I wrote, I realized that I suck at marriage. I broke up two long-term relationships, divorced once, and now struggle to transform anger, resentment and jealousy into love and compassion. Who am I to think that I can add anything of value about this topic?

I am better at friendships.

Well, of course.

In a friendship you can hide

You feel frustrated and don’t respond to emails. You meet for lunch and only talk about small things. You don’t tell your friend you don’t understand her partner choice, “out of respect”.

In a marriage you have less exit options

You live in the same house, you declared your commitment in public, his/her choices have a direct impact on you. And because of the amount of time spent together, your partner becomes more important. Their opinion of you becomes more important. You get more attached to their approval of who you are and what you do.

That’s why marriage can be challenging.

David Schnarch writes about it in his book Passionate Marriage.

A healthy, happy and safe marriage is a marriage between two differentiated people

People who can balance their needs for togetherness and for autonomy. People who are able to calm themselves down, when their partner loses it. People who are able to hold on to themselves, when their partner pushes to conform. People who are willing to pause their dream to accommodate their loved one. People who are willing to make choices that nurture all needs. People who are willing to love wholeheartedly, knowing they will once lose it all, death is inevitable.

David Schnarch claims there are three routes to differentiation.

  1. Unilateral self-disclosure: to disclose something vulnerable and important about yourself, without expecting the other person to do the same. A sort of emotional undressing, while the other keeps their clothes on.
  2. Self-validation: the ability to validate your own experience, when no one agrees, the ability to pursue your own dreams, when no one supports, the ability to believe in yourself, when no one else seems to.
  3. Conflict: the courage to stand up for your truth and desires, even if you fear disconnection and rejection.


I felt very relieved when I read number three. I have plenty of experience with conflict.

Maybe I’m not so ignorant about this topic after all. I might just be differentiating.

What if that is my expertise?


You want my help to transform conflict into differentiation? Call me at 512-589-0482 or email me to schedule a complimentary, discovery session.