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I’ve been transcribing the interview I did a few months back with the lovely LMHC at my church, who we’ll call Sister Jung-Freud (the two major psychology figures I can remember off the top of my head). I was fortunate enough to spend over two hours talking marriage with JF from both a practical and professional standpoint. As someone with an extensive background in counseling, she was able to speak to me about several different topics about the psychology of relationships and marriage, ranging from how to know you’re ready to marry, to communication, to family history, to “baggage,” and so on and so forth. She was also kind enough to do a marriage kit interview about her own marriage. This was a LONG interview jam packed with too much information to give you all at once (some parts, such as the communication part, need their own post), so I will be posting the interview for the next few days. One thing to note: JF served us lunch and was in and out of the refrigerator, washing dishes, and putting away pots and pans, so a line or two had to be fudged. These are indicated by {these} My insertions are indicated by [these]. Here is part I:

2blu:What is your area of specialty? JF: I’m a licensed mental health therapist, individuals with mental health concerns is my specialty. But that includes sometimes their families, so couples, families, parents—it depends on who the client is. So life issues having to do with sound mental health.

2blu: How did you become involved in the mental health field? JF:When I was a teenager, my sister had a psychology book and I was fascinated by it and wanted to be a counselor. I didn’t necessarily know how I was going to do that, but it always fascinated me because the one thing that was in my head was “why do we act like we do?”

2blu: Can you give us your credentials? JF: I’m an LMHC—licensed mental health counselor. I’m a certified employee assistance professional and doctorial student of Pastoral Community Counseling. I was also a certified forensic counselor, but my certification lapsed, so I can’t claim that. [Wow, you could have been on Casey Anthony’s case]

Mr. Perfect’s Question: Do you apply your profession to your personal relationships or psychoanalyze, like, your husband and family and friends? Yes. I try not to but yes I do. [MP: Do you consciously do that?] Sometimes, and then sometimes not. Carl* (her son) says to my constantly, “Can you take your counseling hat off, Mom? Can I talk to my mom here for a minute?” Sometimes I’m not even conscious of it, it’s kind of second nature, but—and then sometimes I do.

2blu: What different things do men and women expect from relationships and is there a gender or sex gap in expectations? JF: That’s a good question to ask my husband [LOL] I think that women truly do expect men to… understand them just because they’re in their lives. They have that expectation. That’s because they think that they understand men that men are supposed to understand them. I think that men expect women to SAY what they want, OK, rather than to expect them to guess what they want. And I think men expect women to be more concrete, if you please, in that if it doesn’t make sense to them it doesn’t make sense. So from their perspective, their concreteness is if this is red then it’s red. You know it’s not tomato red or whatever; it’s just red. Like that. And yes, I do think there is a gender gap in expectations; I truly do.

2blu: What are the benefits or disadvantages of boyfriend and girlfriend relationships, and do you believe it is necessary or that people should have several different boyfriend/girlfriend relationships before marriage? JF:Yeah, that is a big one, isn’t it? [LOL] The pros I think would come from just recognizing more about human nature. I think that’s a biggie. A number of people are sheltered in a lot of ways, and I think having had an opportunity to date a couple of people, a few people, can help with understanding differences. The downside has more to do with whether the person is sexually active. If they are, I think the consequences of multiple relationships can be overwhelming, and I think it creates some of the mayhem and discord in relationships. And not just because there’s a comparison sexually necessarily, but I think that, again, it comes from that expectation that we were talking about earlier on.

2blu: So do you think that a person should or shouldn’t have several different boyfriend/girlfriend relationships before marriage? JF: Oh, I didn’t answer that? [No. I think that you were hoping I didn’t notice you didn’t.] JF: What was the question again? [I repeat the question…again] JF: Yes I do.

2blu: How important is attraction? JF:Very. And as I said earlier, not just physical attraction. If you’re just talking about physical attraction, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so I think that from that perspective it’s pretty important. But not just that, I think there are other attractions. [Like…] A sense of responsibility, character, whatever that character is, religion, values, those type of things.

2blu: What are your thoughts on the debate for and against settling in relationships? JF: What debate? [settling] JF: Oh, settling! [Where do you fall on the spectrum?] JF: I think that we do ourselves an injustice by settling, and I {wouldn’t advocate settling} because we are inclined to hold the other person responsible for a decision that we were just as involved in, and I think that that is very wrong.

2blu: You talked about this a little bit, but what do you think about women and their lists of what they want in a mate? JF: I really think that there should be, because I think that we should have standards. Everybody.  Males and females. I think that it’s to our disadvantage when we don’t have, whether it’s written or mental, it’s truly to our disadvantage, because there are expectations that we have, and that’s what the list is all about. Whether we say we don’t have expectations or not, that’s not true.

To Be Continued…