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Welcome, welcome, welcome!

By Al Turtle © 2007
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If you have arrived here interested in getting a wonderful partnership, or interested in how to do better, or interested in saving  your marriage or that of friends, parents or children, or just interested in specifics of how peaceful partnerships work,  you have arrived at a right place.  Take heart! It ain’t rocket science!

I am a Marriage Therapist and a successful husband with a successful wife.  I really think Sandra and I have learned our way into success as partners as well as to being each other’s best friend.  It wasn’t easy. Some years ago we celebrated our 22nd anniversary on June 29th, 2006.  On that day, I asked her would she marry me again.  Her response, “The way you are now, sure!”  Now, in 2012, it’s 28 years.

If I had to do it again, I too would definitely choose the same person. With what I know now, the process would be much faster and easier.  I often say that at this point Sandra and I are working maybe 10% as hard and are getting 50 times more out of our togetherness.  Hey, folks, it is all about learning to act smarter!  I believe anyone can do it.


The purpose of this site is to make available the specific tools and supporting information that I/we have learned over years about how to really get along, and how make a great partnership/marriage. It is all about what you need in order to get from young, Romantic Love to mature, durable, Vintage Love.  I want to make the process faster and easier for you, beginning at wherever you are.  Speaking of  “wherever you are,”  a really good place to start is with a Map –  by reading or listening to my Map of Relationships.  So far as I know, the only place to get this “Map” is right here on this website


While I will post many colorful pictures for the fun of it (and a picture I took in Istanbul of a piece of art is the most popular download on my site – go figure!), the really useful material is under the directory entitled Relationships.  Here you will find topics (organized in more directories) full of essays, charts, skills, suggestions, and stories.  I use these with couples and singles who come to see me – and I have seen several thousand over the past 15 years.

I often tell people that “if you live on a desert island, you need a whole bunch of skills – fishing, hook sharpening, fire making, cooking, utensil making and repair, bed making, hut making, etc.   Think of these skills as all tools that take up two drawers in your life’s tool box.  If you can live alone easily, you probably have a good set of tools in those toobox drawers.  But when someone swims ashore and joins you, there are new set of tools you need – relating tools.  This top drawer in your toolbox, the one with these relating tools, is the one I am a specialist at.”  These are the tools I offer here.  And remember, it ain’t rocket science.


In the directory of Relationships there are five folders for the five pillars at the core of all Romances and of long-term getting along – what I call The Biological Dream.  Each folder has its own collection of articles or charts.  These are the foundations of peacefully being together.  I am not kidding.  I’ve found these are simply “dead center” critical.  If you are having trouble in your relationship with your partner, your boss, your friends, your family, your children, believe me you are probably stuck without one or more tools and are ready to learn the appropriate sets of skills.  Please don’t blame yourself or them – get to work learning.  I love to say that “You are either going to have a nice day, or you are going to learn something.”   Looking back, the great wisdoms that came to me all began  in some awful situation.  So get on to the learning.

In addition to the five pillars, there are three abolutely necessary special skills and learnings: communication, boundaries, and what I call the “plumber’s version of emotions.”  I believe everyone needs to learn this stuff if you “don’t want to live alone on that desert island.”   So that is eight things you need – five pillars and three special skills.

Finally there is one special folder/topic, Healing, that is a must for married, or living-like-married, people.  Remember the idea that “you can get along with everyone at work easily, but that person at home drives you crazy?”   Well, I believe that Romantic Love sets up a unique situation and creates a very special kind of relationship, fraught with delight and a lot of specific solvable (often seemingly unsolvable) troubles.  I first heard about this from Harville Hendrix, and it is the center of Imago Relationship Therapy.  I didn’t believe it for quite a while, until I had enough evidence.  Tis right!

When clients come to me as a marriage teacher, coach, tutor, they ask “What do I do?” and “Why should I do that?”  I have found that most books on the market and most workshops on relationships are either too vague and do not explain what to do specifically, or they are too specific and without explaining “why.”   Some books and trainings are, I believe, flat wrong.  They teach things that do not work.  I was asked by a casual acquaintance, “What book do you suggest to clients?”  I have many, but I have seen no book or workshop that shares the whole set of problems in achieving a successful intimate relationships.   (The closest thing that I know of is the Getting the Love You Want Couple’s Workshop, and the best of these that I know of is offered by Hedy Schleifer.)

An interesting side task for me has been participating in a project to take the wisdom learned from bringing durable peace to couples and extending this to groups of people.  This is called the Imago Peace Project, where they learn and teach Communologue.  You can find my papers on this material in the folder called Peace Making.


Thoughts on Copyrighting
Read, enjoy, learn, practice, and copy anything you want.  You will notice that I put a copyright mark on most pages.  This does not mean you should not download and copy what you want.  This means I am the author, and if someone has a question about the material or the ideas, they can get back to me.  When you copy stuff, please include that copyright. I see this a bit like the movie, Pay It Forward.  All I ask from you in return is “future goodwill.”

There are so many roads that you may have come down to arrive at my site.  I’d be happy to point out a direction for you on a page called Directions to Go.  You also might try my paper on Where do you Start?  If you want to be methodical, I suggest you start with studying the Map of Relationships.  The Map gives the overall view to the whole set of challenges facing all of us. It also points toward the concept of a “University of Life”, a college-like series of courses.

If you find this valuable, you might considering donating in support of this website. Click the link.


Send me your comments and questions and I’ll be happy to reply or post my answers as I have time.  You can post your comments anonymously, but I would prefer you leave an email address so that I can get back to you.  Thanks for visiting. Al



How to Use this Website — 43 Comments

  1. Dear Al, It’s Linda again. I’m sorry for bothering you too much. Today, he came to pick up his stuff. I thought it might be the last visit so I prepared my mind to be kind and gentle, but I couldn’t. It turned out to hurt a lot, I felt big hurt and resentment, and had nothing to say with him but cold. Daughter was glad of his existence, sang a lot after that which made me feel a lot of pain inside. I know a part of me still love him a lot, and a part is saying I should stop. Shattered and tired. Thank you for listening to me.

    • I hear you, Linda. Sometimes it’s good to clearly say “goodbye”, put behind you the a) good memories, b) the bad memories and c) those wonderful dreams you had that you think will never happen again. AND THEN be ready for the future. Saying “goodbye” is a darn useful skill. Good luck.

  2. Hi Al,
    Thanks so much for all the great info on your website! It has helped me understand
    many things that I have wanted to understand for a long time. I have searched the
    website and not found much concerning alcohol addiction. My question is what are
    the chances I can gain a greater understanding of myself (setting boundaries, knowing
    myself better, learning to trust) with a spouse of 36 years who has been addicted to
    alcohol (except for 12 years when he worked a program and was sober)? I have
    recently come to understand I am codependent and the depth of my self-neglect.
    I also have some passive master issues, and dominate relationship has been
    master/slave. I am going to alanon (last 3 months) and he has been sober the last
    few months (I had made a decision to leave but had not told him) , but not working
    program. I have seen changes in his demeanor since I have I changed in how I
    respond to him.

    I grew up with alcoholic father, dependent mother who was always threatening
    to leave but never would/could. I felt invisible and scared. I sense a time of great
    discovery coming now, and I don’t want to do anything to hinder it. Thank you so

    • How courageous you are, Ann. And living proof that no matter what, you can decide to change for the better. Go for it.

      I really don’t see alcohol as a primary issue. I’ve come to believe drugs, excepts those that kill fairly quickly, are really less a problem than the behaviors, habits, etc. that go along with them. The biggest problems, for me, center around habitual bullying and habitual silent submission. I’m thinking more and more about focusing on creating and maintaining bully-free spaces – a place where no one bullies. You’ve already started looking into this as you’ve focused on Boundaries and all the Master/Slave stuff.

      Your question is about what are your chances. Since I don’t see these things as a game of chance, I would say you are into a 100% situation. You’re learning and either a) you’re gonna learn all you need or b) you’re gonna die first. That’s true for all of us. A 36 year practicing alcoholic and a 36 year practicing partner-of-alcoholic may need lots of support, but I think they have the need and right to recover.

      Bless you. Keep a going.

  3. Dear Al,
    Sorry, it’s Linda again. I got one email from him that he lost all passion. And he asked me to return some of his stuff to his apartment when he’s not there. That disrespect attitude is unbelievable for me. Please advise what should I do?
    Thank you very much.

    • Well, Linda, Ouch! That hurts. But then he can be as disrespectful as he wants. Seems a bit high handed to ask you to do work for him. I would suggest he arrange to pick up his stuff on your doorstep. Otherwise maybe follow the suggestions I’ve already written to you. Good luck. Ouch!

      • Thank you, Al.
        I’ll take your advice. I’m really shocked by his manner. Asked myself who is this man, somebody I used to know…

        • Lots of ways to look at that. He was a guy that you knew just a little bit about. He fooled you. You were pretty blind…… etc. I use the old one, “All people make sense all the time.” Thus he was making sense and his sense has changed. You can either be aware of his sense or be unaware of it or in-between.

  4. Thank you very much, Al. Now I recall in the crisis he said, reconsidering his life one reason for not making children was to experience the world, he’s afraid that he has to give up that dream because of the big responsibility for my child, then he thinks he will hurt me and my child in the future because of his selfish dream…When we started this relationship his words about loving and responsibility for my daughter were very different. Is that because he forgot himself in our romantic period and now is his real voice? What can I do?
    Thank you for your support.

    • Well, Linda, it’s certainly tough. If you can’t get him to contact you at all for a long time, then you have to move on AND process all that pain of loss. The hopes that are generated during the Romantic Period are, to my mind, very valuable as they point to what Vintage Love could be like – with a lot of work. And you ask which are his real words. Well, I think both what he said originally and what he said recently are his real words. People change their minds all the time and adjust their value systems.

      What you can do? 1) Take care of yourself and your kid. 2) Make a decision about how long you can wait and send notes (When to Fold ‘Em). 3) When you reach the end time, let him go, thoroughly grieve the losses including the losses of you hopes with him, and 4) then proceed to find someone new to pursue Vintage Love with. If he shows up while you are doing this, reconsider. That’s the best I got.

      Good luck.

      • Dear Al, thank you very much. It’s good to talk with you about these stuff and hear your wise voice. I can keep calm better now. Thank you again.

  5. Dear Al, thank you for your wise advice and warm heart. I’ve read your articles again and again since his leaving, stopped pushing him and tried to survive as your guide in “What to do when he/she leaves”.

    Now, I could understand it would be more practical to find a close by man who has his own child. But saying is easier than doing, I really longed for our life long commitment and find it very difficult to get away from hoping his coming back…

    I’m really confused, in my case should I stop all connection until he’s ready to talk, or should I sometimes drop him an email…

    • Dear Linda, Good to hear from you. Yes it is easy so say what you “should do.” Not easy to do. Ow, ow. And sure you want him reconnected to you, badly. When you verbally make a life long commitment and hear those words from your partner, wow that is wonderful. But, again, “words” are easy. And you, of course, still want that “life long commitment. Fortunately our minds seem able to accept that from many different people. The way I say it, “He’s not the one. He’s just one of the ones.” Still the “one” you got is worth more than the “one” you left behind or the “one” you’re looking for. Funny.

      About your confusion I wrote an article. When to Fold ’em? It’s about a way to go to decide how to give up seeking for his return. The article give the details.

      Good luck.

      • Dear Al, thank you for your reply. I’ve read “When to Fold’ em” and my concern is about the work that I can work visibly…As his main complaint was 1- the culture conflict in job and society, 2- my daughter’s behavior is difficult to accept for him, 3- he thinks I lost trust to him which is very important to build a family…the 1st, I can’t do anything. the 2nd, change & integration needs a lot of time and maybe it partially depends on his love and effort to her. the 3rd seems the only part that I could work on – but as you wrote, trust is an issue of safety, now I don’t know if I could feel safe in his leaving or not…looks like I can’t do anything.

        • Well, Dear Linda, I think there are lots of things to do. You start your thoughts with his “list”. Remember that he may not have told you clearly or completely what his “issues” were, and if you are together more information may come along. But I’m with you, you have to start somewhere.

          1- culture conflict in job and society. Here you can do a lot to show you are learning what “his” conflicts and why they make sense to him. This is all about seeking to Validate him (my article on Diversity, commonly called Icebergs) and until then PreValidate him. You can slip a line into your notes to him that refer to your learnings here. Also, if you connect to him, your part of this problem may be mostly to listen, and again Validate and PreValidate. I suggest you don’t cast him off by not seeking to understand him.

          2- my daughter’s behavior. This one sounds a bit as if he tries to control her more or in a different way than you do. Again, starting with PreValidating him, you may end up teaching him how to Validate her. And this probably involves a lot about boundaries. (A whole topic here – Boundaries for Singles) You’ll need ’em with your daughter, too, is my guess.

          3- lost trust. My guess is this is a whole lot about the Lizard and the disrespect that comes from lack of Validation and understanding. I think all adults need to be expert and building and rebuilding trust.

          Last- I don’t know if I could feel safe in his leaving or not… This is all about the Lizard, Boundaries, and getting clarity about whose job is it to make you feel safe. It is your job. No one else’s. Learn to effectively keep your Lizard calm. Use Boundary Skills if other’s won’t help.

          Good luck.

          Good luck.

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