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    The New Marriage - Interviews

    Media Interviews and Appearances

    Print Interviews


    Wilmington Star

    DEALING WITH THE 'HAPPILY EVER AFTER' MYTH

    By Amanda Greene

    (May 4, 2002, Wilmington Star)
    Staff Writer, Wilmington Star, Wilmington, NC
    www.WilmingtonStar.com

    Florida marriage and family therapist Dr. Linda Miles writes fairy tales for her granddaughter to help her understand love someday. But she replaces the happily ever after parts with, "Then, they began the hard work," instead. She doesn't allow her granddaughter to watch shows like The Bachelor or Temptation Island, either. She believes those shows are symptoms of the fantasy mentality surrounding marriage today.

    Alex, the bachelor vying for a wife on the ABC show The Bachelor, interviewed 25 women and dated several, deciding whom he would ask to marry him. He decided on the blonde, hazel-eyed Amanda from Kansas on the last show April 25, though he didn't actually offer her a ring.

    Temptation Island 2 was the Fox Network's series where unmarried couples stayed on an exotic island together to explore the strength of their relationships. The couples were introduced to eligible singles to discover if the person they're dating is right for them.

    But relationships in the real world seldom have a tropical island included in the deal. Love and trust are not automatic. Being married today is even harder work, an element that is often ignored in many television shows today, Dr. Miles says.

    As couples enter the spring wedding season, Dr. Miles and her husband and fellow counselor Robert Miles, believe shows like The Bachelor support the fantasy ideal of marriage that can destroy newlyweds.

    In their book, The New Marriage: Transcending the Happily-Ever-After Myth, the couple says, "Marriage, as we have known it, is dead, and we need to reform our idea of what a real marriage should be.

    Couples should start by not expecting their mate to be perfect.

    "We work with professionals and doctors, and what's amazing to me is how they can be so bright and how they still marry on the basis of physical attraction and fantasy," said the counselor of 30 years.

    Dr. Miles said 100 years ago, men and women had different roles and spent less time together. Today it's different, she said.

    "Now, women want guys to be emotionally present after they've spent eons not doing that, and women are now expected to go out in the world of work and not take things personally," she said. "It's like we want couples to play in the Super Bowl, but they barely know how to throw a football."

    Her evidence: the 50 percent divorce rate in America the U.S. Census Bureau cited this year and another widely reported trend referred to as "starter marriages," or first-time marriages of people in their 20s or early 30s that last five years or less.

    Amanda and Alex from The Bachelor may add to that statistic, Dr. Miles believes.

    "Amanda said to Alex at the end, "Let's say goodbye to this Hollywood fantasy and say hello to my fantasy world. You are everything I've ever wanted," Dr. Linda said. "This is a man she knew only five weeks. Is she cruising for a bruising or what? They dress up, they go about and think they're going to marry Prince Charming, but it doesn't often work out that way."

    Wilmington resident Lou Muto said these types of shows make fun of serious relationships.

    "I think the shows are very materialistic because how can you pay someone to be attracted to someone else on national television," he said.

    Mary Sparks, a senior at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, said the relationship between Amanda and Alex on The Bachelor didnât seem real.

    "They might have a chance to last because they did seem more compatible than all the others, but to get married and then see if it will work?" she said. "I don't think that's the way a marriage is supposed to happen."

    Some of the solutions Dr. Miles offered were be friends first, don't lose your identity in the relationship, strive for what you both want and need, make sure you can fight fair and work through your problems together. Your children will learn from your example, too, she said.

    "We know that a happy marriage correlates with longevity in life, health, happiness and a better sex life," she said. "You fall in love, you're at a peak, and no one warns you that you might go into a valley sometimes. It's normal to work out problems together. It's just acknowledging your differences."

    For further info., contact reporter Amanda Greene at 343-2365 or amanda.greene@wilmingtonstar.com


    The New Herald

    A GUIDE FOR OVERCOMING MARITAL PROBLEMS

    By Marcia Facundo

    Published on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 in El Nuevo Herald (The New Herald)

    Linda Miles states that unless one knows him/herself and knows how to work on a relationship, the marriage is not going to work out.

    The high occurrence of divorce today is a consequence of the false expectations that people have when they decide to marry, convinced that the phrase "and they lived happily ever after" can hold true in real life.

    This is the point raised by experts Linda and Robert Miles, authors of the book The New Marriage, a guide intended to help people overcome marital problems once the honeymoon phase is over.

    For the Mileses, "and they lived happily..." is a concept true only in fairy tales. In real life, when two people marry they begin the difficult task of building a relationship. And to achieve it, one needs to have the right tools.

    These tools should be learned from childhood, experts say.

    "We have to begin educating children about marriage," states Linda Miles. For thirty years, she and her husband have dedicated themselves to providing marriage counseling. They decided to write the book when they realized that when a couple arrives at the counselor's office in search of help, it is usually already too late. Only between thirty to thirty-five percent of couples nationwide are able to resolve their conflicts with the help of professional counseling.

    Robert Miles is a psychiatrist in the Office of Mental Health, part of the Department of Children and Families in the State of Florida. For her part, Linda Miles specializes in family issues. The two have been married for ten years and in their work share many of their experiences, both from this marriage as from their previous ones.

    Recent studies reveal that between fifty and sixty percent of marriages in the United States fail. Seven of every ten marriages end in divorce. The Mileses think that the main problem of today's couples is that the old rules of marriage no longer function in today's society. Nor is the definition of relationship, upon which these rules are based, very practical in these times in which life expectancies have increased, the Industrial and Technological Revolutions have occurred, and women's lib has come about.

    This is why the Mileses suggest a new definition of marriage.

    In light of the high incidence of divorce, the State of Florida enacted a law in order to reward those couples who take a marriage preparation course before tying the knot.

    This premarital program was designed by the Mileses. But they point out that when couples decide to marry, they think that only with their love will they be able to overcome any obstacle.

    "Unless one knows him/herself and knows how to work on a relationship, the relationship is not going to work out," adds Linda.

    She points out that love is not enough to make a marriage work. What is effective "is the practice of saying to yourself, 'I'm going to commit to achieving my own well-being and that of this other person.'"

    It has been demonstrated that the consequences of divorce are harmful to the psychological state of the people involved. However, notes Robert Miles, recently it has been discovered that separation also affects physical health.

    He adds that the children of divorced parents live an average of four years less than those of parents who remain married. If when these children reach adulthood they too divorce, it is likely that they will live eight years less.

    Linda and Robert Miles complain about the fact that today's society dedicates more time and effort to teaching children to play tennis than to helping them develop the tools for a happy marriage.

    "We wrote the book to tell people that marriage is a journey across two mountains with a valley in the middle," adds Linda.

    The couple climbs the first mountain when they fall in love and think that they will be happy forever. But sooner or later they begin to discover one another's' faults, and they fall into what the Mileses call "The Valley of Tigers," which, although it seems terrible, is the period in which the two can achieve the best results.

    It is there that the two should learn to be close to one another, while at the same time each one remains a complete individual.

    Robert Miles points out that it is in the valley where each person is going to have to work it out with his or her spouse.

    Seven questions for improving relationships

    Linda Miles, co-author of the book The New Marriage, advises that before being able to love another, people have to learn to accept and love themselves. She offers a series of questions to couples seeking to improve their marital relationships:

    • Do we know how to tell one another the truth lovingly?
    • Do we still look at one another with tenderness?
    • Are we able to "fix" our relationship after a fight?
    • Do we respect one another's individuality?
    • Do we have a vision for our relationship to which we refer every now and then?
    • Are we friendly and kind toward one another?
    • Are we conscientious of the problems that we bring with us from our own families?

    For more information about the work of Robert and Linda Miles, you can visit their website at www.drlindamiles.com.

    [Photo caption:] Experts Linda and Robert Miles have written a guide in order to help people overcome marital problems once the honeymoon phase is over.

    Translation by Heather Portorreal



    Absolutewrite.com

    INTERVIEW WITH DRS. LINDA & ROBERT MILES

    Interview by Jenna Glatzer
    Absolutewrite.com

    July 2001. See interview at www.absolutewrite.com

    Dr. Robert W. Miles is a psychiatrist with over thirty years of experience in the field. He has worked in numerous areas of psychiatry including private practice, administrative psychiatry, with children and families, as well as adults. He was appointed as Senior Physician for the State of Florida. Robert has a special interest in couple work and has practiced psychotherapy as a team with his wife, Linda.

    Dr. Linda Miles has worked in the field of mental health for over thirty years. She has specialized in marriage and family work. She is currently in private practice and provides consultation for organizations in the area of communication skills. The Tallahassee Association of Marriage and Family Therapists presented her with the Distinguished Contributions to Knowledge & Practice of Marriage and Family Therapy Award on December 4, 2000.

    Linda and Robert believe that it is very important to have "lived the questions" about how to make a relationship work and they share many of their personal experiences in the book. They have three sons, Bobby, Blake, and Bret, and four grandchildren, Merritt, Drew, Bobby, and Samantha. Drs. Robert and Linda Miles reside in Tallahassee, Florida.

    Tell us about your book, The New Marriage: Transcending the Happily-Ever-After Myth.

    The New Marriage provides answers and tools to help empower couples to transform their relationships, move beyond Hollywood-inspired, happily-ever-after fantasies, and learn to create realistic, long-term adult relationships. It is based on our own life experience, and that of hundreds of couples we have treated in the past twenty-five years. We designed this guidebook to help others create a relationship that is alive and full of joy. We believe that a true marriage is a mystical union that requires much practice and preparation to survive in the modern world.

    Why did you write this book?

    We saw a need to address the issue that marriage, as we have known it, is dead (the divorce rate is almost 70%). We noticed in our practice that very often by the time a couple came in for therapy one of the partners was ready to get a divorce. We learned through research that the average couple waits about 6 or 7 years before getting help÷which is often too little, too late. We wanted to write about prevention and the importance of people learning to make a relationship work prior to getting married. Also, we had grave concerns about the lessons that we are teaching children in fairy tales where we are telling children that when you marry you "live happily ever after." This does not prepare them for the difficulties in maintaining a long-term marriage.

    How did you select Cypress House as your publisher?

    Our publicist located the extremely professional staff of Cypress House (www.cypresshouse.com). They accepted our book and had an excellent editor, John Fremont, who reviewed the copy. Cypress House has turned out to be an exceptional publisher that we would recommend to anyone who is looking for a small publishing house.

    You use many examples from your clients' lives in the book. Did you have to get permission from each of them to include their stories?

    In the front of the book we explain that the client examples are a composite of people that we have seen in our practice. We did not use any specific cases. We also took pains to disguise the identity of the composites.

    You call this book a "team effort." How so? What is the editing process like?

    From the beginning we had excellent editors. We had a number of professional friends review the book and give us feedback. The spiritual section was reviewed by our son who is a minister and by a friend who has a masters in pastoral counseling. We give credit to all of these people in the introduction. We also had a focus group of professionals from editorial and lay background to critique the ideas. We had John Fremont, an editor from Cypress House, provide the final polish. It is very important for editors to be honest and critical when needed. Fortunately, we have thick skins. In addition, the co-authors went through each word in the book to verify that we were using the most concise and practical examples to help clients understand the concepts.

    Since your marriage is a second marriage for both of you, do you find that this damages your credibility to readers? Why should readers trust relationship advice from people who've been divorced?

    Because most people in our culture have been affected by divorced. That is one of the myths that we are trying to deal with in this book. We feel that we need a new model. The average marriage a hundred years ago lasted 8.5 years because people died. The average marriage today lasts 8.5 years because of divorce. It is a whole new day. We are certainly not in favor of divorce. We believe that it is extremely difficult and damaging. However, if people are not prepared for the realities of marriage, and have unrealistic expectations, this is often what happens. We believe that people should trust our relationship advice because we have the personal and professional experiences with marriage. We have learned our lessons both through difficult personal experiences, as well as what we have learned from our clients. We speak candidly of our learning experiences in The New Marriage. It is also important to notice that people who have not experienced difficulties in relationships may not be the best advisors. They may not have had the experiences that have taught them what it takes to make a relationship work. Perhaps they were just lucky and found the right partner, but would not know how to teach someone how to learn and grow from difficult times.

    Linda, you also co-wrote a children's book, Amanda Salamander Discovers the Secret of Happily-Ever-After. Why did you write this one?

    I wrote Amanda Salamander because I was reading fairy tales to my granddaughter, Merritt, and was distressed by the endings. I would change the endings in the fairy tales from "and they lived happily ever after" to "and they began a very hard work of making a marriage work."

    Your work demonstrates just the kind of effect writers can have on people's lives, especially during childhood. Do you think it's damaging for children to be fed too many fantasy endings, perfect romances, etc.? Is this a responsibility writers should take seriously?

    Absolutely, we think that there is a responsibility for children's writers to help prepare them for life. Children have very few models of good marriages. We believe that writers of children's literature should be aware of their impact and that they may be setting up a person for a great deal of pain in the future because they did not have a fantasy life after their wedding. It is possible to have excitement and a happy ending while also being realistic in children's books.

    Is it only children who absorb these unrealistic visions of relationships based on books, movies, etc.? Is there an age when our subconscious minds can appropriately file information in "fantasy" and "reality" piles?

    No! And, there are excellent movies now that are entertaining and also realistic. For example, "The Story of Us" with Bruce Willis and Michele Pfeiffer has a very realistic view of the difficulties of marriage and of the lessons that this couple learns about compassion, acceptance, and how to value their family.

    Whatâs it like to co-write with your spouse? Do you take turns writing or do you literally sit together and hammer out each word?

    Part of the book was written separately and for part of it we sat together and hammered out each word. Robert sat at the computer and Linda sat on the floor for long hours while we went through each word and example in the book together, asking ourselves whether we were taking the best possible approach and using the most concise wording.

    How are your publicizing this book?

    Cypress House has been helpful in the publishing world with book reviews and providing great national book distribution. Also, we have done training for professional organizations in different cities. In addition, we were fortunate to have an excellent writer do a story in the Tallahassee Democrat which was picked up on the Knight Ridder wire service and published in other papers around the country.

    Anything else you'd like to add?

    Yes, the scope of this problem in huge. We are doing a terrible job of maintaining relationships in this country, which is having detrimental effects on adults as well as children. We need to re-examine the model for marriage and how we are going about maintaining long-term relationships in a time when life span has increased significantly and both parents tend to be out in the work force. It is also significant that we have a huge problem with domestic violence. A woman is battered every 15 seconds in this country. We believe that people need to learn to be responsible and compassionate in order to begin to heal the problem. Marriage is for life, and marriage should give life.