Linda and Charlie Bloom
2013 Mental Health Hero Cartoon-A-Thon
Drawing by Chato Stewart
Linda and Charlie Bloom are seminar leaders, authors, psychotherapists and consultants and are considered experts in the field of human relations. They have been working with individuals, couples, and groups throughout the country and internationally since 1975 and have been featured speakers at many professional and public conferences. They have made over 200 radio and TV appearances.
They have been faculty members and educators at a number of learning institutes and universities including Esalen Institute, The Kripalu Center, The Crossings, JFK University, Omega Institute, California Institute of Integral Studies, California School of Professional Psychology, Antioch University, the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, and many others. Their work has been endorsed by Marianne Williamson, Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Jerry Jampolsky, Stephen Levine, and many other nationally recognized speakers and educators.
They are the authors of the bestselling book, 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last, and their latest book, Secrets of a Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love was published 2010.
Linda and Charlie have been married since 1972 and have three grandchildren. Together they co-direct Bloomwork in Santa Cruz, CA and can be contacted at 831-421-9822, or by email at: email@example.com. For more information please visit their website: Bloomwork.com.
The Trophy for the Most Improved
Learning from our experience.
My husband thinks we should get the trophy for the most improved couple. We got together when we were so young that we didn’t have many clues about what a good marriage looked like. Neither my parents nor his had one so we didn’t have a model and were flying by the seat of our pants as we went along. We made so many mistakes. We didn’t know how to negotiate differences and our fears ran us. We manipulated, shouted, threatened, used silence, and all manner of unskillful means attempting to get our way. We had no concept that if one person loses, both people lose. We were both such hot chili peppers back in the early days that we would blurt out things that we would be sorry for later, and boy did we pay for it. Over time we learned how to take responsibility and not blame the other person if there were rough spots.
Our relationship was never at risk for petering out from boredom. We had plenty of passion but it was at risk of burning out from being overheated. We both committed ourselves to cultivating self-discipline and self-restraint to pause and reflect before speaking so that what came out of our mouth was more likely to be constructive. But pain is a great motivator and over time we learned how to fight fairly and manage our differences with some skill. We came to call it “conscious combat”.
Another area where we fell down on the job was neglecting our relationship. There were years when my husband was building his career where he made his profession more important than the marriage. And when the kids were small I was so preoccupied with being a devoted mother that often the needs of the marriage for some fun and enjoyment fell off of the priority list. Neither one of us was taking very good care of ourselves so we didn’t have very much to bring to the marriage. It was drying out. In the nick of time we realized how emaciated the marriage was getting and began to prioritize the romantic aspect of our life and we nursed it back to health. We began to see our partnership as a living entity like a new baby in the family that needs to be nourished, and it’s diapers changed. You have to clean up and not let any incompletions lay around unattended to.
There were times when we let each other down in our immaturity, lack of understanding and forgetfulness we caused pain to the one we loved the most. I had to learn to release from the grip of the inner perfectionist and face the reality that a marriage isn’t always rosy, that sometimes there really are dark times. I cultivated the qualities of patience, tolerance, acceptance, and forgiveness and learned how to rebuild the trust after it had sunken.
One of the things that we learned along the way is how important it is to make your partner’s needs as important as your own. Not more important than your own, but not less important than your own. When we began to appreciate the importance of this balance for a healthy, successful relationship we each started to ask the questions and listen deeply to each other about our lofty and wildest dreams and envisioned for our life and committed ourselves to being supports. We came to call this “find out what your partner wants and help him/her get it”. We learned that there are so many creative ways to show our love for the other. It’s the very best use of our time and energy to become a more loving human being and to show that care in so many ways. We recognized that the way we show love is generally how we like love shown to us. We can’t help but be subjective, but our partner is different from us, and we have to ask. We learned that one of the most important questions that you can ask your partner is, “how may I best love you?”
We had a really rocky start in our early years but we had the dogged determination and understood that the secret of life is just don’t quit. Commitment has taken us quite far. Not the kind of commitment of I’m going to stand it till death do us part, but commitment to the process of doing our own work, keeping attention on ourselves, and how we can make the relationship better. We’ve come to call this, “enlightened self-interest”. My husband knows if he has a happy wife, he has a happy life, and I know it too. If my husband is thriving in his life, has those things in his life that make life fulfilling for him, he’s my happy husband. We teach workshops about growing relationship skills. We tell our before and after stories when we were confused, harmed our relationship, and dangled precariously at the edge of divorce. We tell our stories too, of how blissfully happy we are now. How after 44 years together we enjoy so much ease and harmony. We tell our students about the thrill of the co-creative process. The before stories about how unskillfully we managed our relationship in the old days really inspires our students. They say if this couple was that screwed up we could do at least as well as they are and become a happy couple too.
FreeCounselingHelp.com is America’s only directory connecting people with affordable counseling. There are thousands of non-profit agencies within America that are available to help those with limited means. FreeCounselingHelp.com allows people to quickly search by ZIP code and find the best fit for their mental health needs.
Mentalympians is a mental health community development initiative to raise awareness of mental health recovery, inspire hope, reduce self-stigma, foster recovery and also connect individuals who are interested in campaigning for mental health reform.
I would like to thank Enzymedica’s Tom Bohager for his support. Enzymedica is Florida-based founded in 1998 to offer consumers targeted digestive enzymes products. Considered America’s #1 selling enzyme brand sold by health food store retailers. They also offer a FREE Digestive Enzyme interactive education program that is very helpful in learning the benefits enzymes have on our over all health.
Friend me on Facebook @chato B Stewart.
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