How To Have Successful Relationships!

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
Volume 13, Number 4

With our April E-Letter, we have taken on a new format which we hope you will find easier and quicker to read. We are using Facebook and Linkedin for quicker postings of relevant mental health articles while information about our practice, my blog, and a main topic will continue in our monthly E-Letters. We thank you for reading them and for the suggestions and comments we have received.

Downloads of handouts from our previous E-Letters can be found on our website, We invite you to read and download them if desired.


One of the greatest problems our society faces is the ability to get along with others. Whether it be within marriages, friendships, work relationships, or other relationships, hurt and unresolved conflicts lead to anger, disruption, and emotional damage. Most of us would agree that our society has become polarized which seems like a trend that has been going on for decades. Competition and being better than the next have served to separate people. The only time that it seems like people can rally together is when there is some type of tragedy such as a hurricane or lately, school shootings and gun violence. But why does it have to be that way?

Many television shows highlight competition and put downs of others in the name of humor or entertainment. But what does it really do to our values system? The news whether it be television, internet, or print, are now notorious for not being impartial but for infotainment. They promote some political point of view to gain viewers and sell advertising. But this only tends to separate people into agreement with their point of view or disagreement and anger. Is this what we want for our society? Is this what we want our kids to learn?

In many ways, social media has allowed people to come together for a cause. However, it can be divisive by people showing where they are or what they have that others don’t. Often, this can lead to jealously and resentment although not intentioned to do this. It can be a splitting of relationships rather than a sharing. Frequently, we hear of people who feel rejected when their postings are not liked or commented on. Do we really care which celebrity is badmouthing another?

One of the most common reasons why people come to see us professionally is because of relationship problems. This may be between spouses, children and parents, family members, or colleagues at work. Often, they are angry, hurt, frustrated, and depressed but are hopeful that a solution can be found. These patients are wise enough to know that they need professional help to resolve their issues and to learn what it takes to have successful relationships. But many have not learned or don’t remember the skills to relating successfully.

We offer the following information which can be downloaded as a handout at


When you’re down and troubled and you need some loving care
And nothing, nothing is going right..close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there to brighten up even your darkest night…— Carole King


  • Relationships like anything else need to grow; work and nurturance are key elements in growing a relationship
  • Ensure that the other person feels important and do not take each other for granted
  • Keep your ego in check and do not try to change the other person
  • Mutual Trust, Respect, Communication, and Commitment are vital in maintaining any relationship
  • True trust is the ability to count on your partner, to know that they are there for you, that they “have your back”, and that they will not hurt you
  • Respect means having a high regard for the other person and not treating them in hurtful or deprecating ways even if they disagree with you
  • Communication may be difficult but it is necessary: it allows for partners to be on the same team by clearing up misunderstandings, misperceptions, conflicts, etc.
  • Communication can also show respect for one’s ideas and also allows for the building and strengthening of relationships
  • According to Dr. John Gottman, contempt or disrespect by either or both partners is the best predictor of divorce
  • The ability to resolve conflicts is also one of the strongest predictors of successful relationships
  • Many arguments can be resolved by separating the person from the issue and recognizing that one partner is not intentionally trying to hurt the other
  • When resolving conflicts, be open and honest and say what you really mean; choose words that are not aggressive, hurtful, or disrespectful
  • Set clear and firm boundaries so that each partner can take responsibility for their own feelings and actions and not the other partner’s feelings and actions

  • Make the relationship important and think in terms of “we” not “me”
  • Create safety in order to be able to verbally express hurts, fears, and anger
  • Work on being friends and not just partners
  • Be kind to each other and treat and take personal responsibility; apologize with sincerity when wrong or hurtful
  • Make positive statements at least five times as many as negative ones
  • Express positive affection through smiling, hugging, touching, and just being more thoughtful
  • Seek professional help if you are unable to establish or maintain successful relationships
    Call us at 954 755-2885 or email us at

    Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates
    5551 N University Drive, Suite 202
    Coral Springs FL 33067
    Copyright © 2018 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D.

    Dr. K’s Blog

    April 20, 2018
    It has now been over two months since the terrible tragedy that happened at Stoneman Douglas. School and routines have resumed but people are not the same. A profound sadness is still upon the community and it will take a long time to overcome the anger and grief, if ever. But most people I have spoken to want to resume their lives.

    Town hall meetings and gun violence protests occur frequently and rightly so. Hopefully changes will be made to protect and ensure the safety of our society. However, it seems that little attention has been paid to those individuals who are mentally or characterologically ill. History has shown us that these types of individuals will continue to act out against society and will find the means to do so.

    We must as a society find ways to help these people and get them connected so that they are not isolated and angry. Early identification of behavioral or emotional problems can help these individuals before their anger and resentment grow into acting out behaviors against society. This is not just a suggestion; this is a necessity.

    We very well may be looking at a mental health epidemic. Combine this with the availability of weapons is a recipe for disaster. Just providing money to have more counselors at schools or to failed mental health clinics is not enough. Just as we would with a medical illness, we need to have mental health tools, quality training of therapists, and research-based screening programs to identify and help those individuals at risk before they escalate.

    The time has come. Mental illness needs to be recognized as an epidemic and treated and not hidden because of stigma or not being an exciting topic for the media. Guns do kill people but people pull the trigger.

    January 20, 2018
    During the past year, many of my patients have come to their sessions angry about politics. It doesn’t matter what party they belong to or whether they are right-leaning, left-leaning, or centrist, they are all angry and frustrated. They feel powerless and worry about the future of our country and of themselves. Perhaps, rightly so. Many hours have been spent in conversation attempting to reduce their anger and to focus on their daily lives.

    One of the suggestions that have come out of our discussions seems to work. That is, to reduce or eliminate the number of hours spent watching the news on television or listening to it on the radio. It doesn’t matter what network you watch or listen to. All of them seem intent on stirring up feelings of unfairness and anger but offer no solutions. I guess the ultimate goal is to get watchers or listeners glued to their stations. Perhaps this is a media addiction. Yet there is no high but only worry and anger.

    I recently read an article about a self-imposed news blackout by Christopher Hebert, an assistant professor of English at the University of Tennessee, in the January 18 edition of The Guardian. The following is an excerpt:
    Ignorance is far easier than I thought. I finish two or three audiobooks a week. I read novels instead of newspapers. Five months into my blackout, I’m happier than I ever was back in the days when I was informed. My fingernails are growing back. The sleeping pills remain in the bottle. I’m getting more work done. My family comes home at the end of the day to find me smiling, chopping things for dinner without my old vegicidal rage. And yet, part of me can’t stop feeling guilty about feeling good.
    Perhaps, this is one solution to the anger and frustration of a media news addiction.

    December 18, 2017
    Today, a patient of mine told me that his daughters were graduating from college in a few months. I was surprised to realize and remember how fast time passes. I know that it does but was nevertheless surprised. It seemed like it was just yesterday, that we were discussing their separating and leaving home for college. We spent many sessions discussing being an empty nester and the changes and opportunities it brings.

    Time is relative in that it seems like some moments go on forever and some go so quickly that if we blink we miss them. Life just seems to happen while we are waiting for whatever we are waiting for. While we are looking at what we don’t have and didn’t do, we miss out on what we did do and the wonderful experiences that we did have. I think the answer lies in living in the moment. Taking in as much as we can, both good and bad, is the best we can do.

    I recently saw a friend of mine who was depressed about turning 70. We talked and I tried to get him to see that age was just a number and how he viewed that number would determine his mood. I don’t think I got very far trying to convince him that he was not old and was still vital and helpful to so many people. Maybe it sunk in.

    For myself, I have been practicing mindfulness and trying to live in the moment. I am looking for stillness and sometimes am successful. I try to use all my senses in savoring the moment and some simple experiences defy description in their beauty. Yet reality and our society seem to have a way of intruding so that stress and worry are created. I look at mindfulness and appreciating natural beauty as the antidote to the constant troubling news and feeling of powerless generated by politicians, news people, and other media types.

    The past year has been difficult in some ways yet I have had some wonderful experiences with my family and friends. None of us knows what the new year brings for us but I am determined to enjoy as much of it as I can. It will take work and discipline and sacrifice and commitment. But what is the alternative?

    November 18. 2017
    On Thursday nights, I take a restorative yoga class. This class is not a typical yoga class. Rather, it is more of a meditation and relaxation class. Guided by the instructor while in postures of relaxation, I find myself letting go and truly relaxing from the business of the week. In fact, when the class is over, few yogis want to leave and “I needed that” is frequently heard.

    Although I have been trained in relaxation techniques and use them with some patients, it is hard for me to actually relax. Taking this class has allowed me to experience in some way what my patients experience. True relaxation necessitates the ability to let go; something most of us have a hard time doing. Whether we live hurried lives or we don’t have a sense of safety without our guards being up, relaxation takes practice. Letting one’s guard down takes trust. Letting go takes effort.

    In restorative yoga after a sense of stillness is achieved in a posture, the instructor uses guided imagery to describe peaceful and beautiful scenes to direct our attention towards relaxing. Following the teacher’s imagery, one can transcend the everyday world into the world of the imagery. Worries disappear, muscles loosen and smooth out, and the events of the day are forgotten for a few moments. Some people become so relaxed that they even fall asleep.

    Research has shown that relaxation has many psychological and physical benefits. In the hectic and stressful world in which we live, relaxation is not a luxury. It is a necessity. I have found my way to relax in restorative yoga. I hope you can find your way. Consider taking a yoga class.

    October 21, 2017
    Last night I watched the movie, “Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace, Music, and Love”, and was visibly moved by how much our society has changed in the almost 50 years since this festival occurred. As I remembered and confirmed in the movie, the Woodstock community was peaceful and loving. Numerous comments were made about how nice the kids were, how courteous they were to each other, and how helpful they were to each other. This happened despite the quantity of drugs, the rain, the lack of food, the lack of accommodations, and the difficulties in transportation. Townspeople went out of their way to comment on how courteous the kids were saying “thank you” and “please” and asking permission. They greeted each other warmly and were well behaved not wanting to trespass on the property of others. They respected themselves and each other. When food ran out, they shared. When it rained, they shared whatever they had to cover themselves. When disagreements occurred, they settled them peacefully. When someone overdosed or had bad trips, there were others and medics to help them. They worked together to make this temporary society flourish. As Spock says in Star Trek, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few … or the one.

    Contrast that with today’s society. It seems to me that disrespect has become the norm. The values of our society which has existed for generations seems to have become eroded. Language has deteriorated to the point that curse words are used commonly in language by both sexes in public and on television. Dress has become so casual that in some cases it borders on sloppy and unsanitary. Respect for institutions is not trendy nor important. Values seem to be only important when it serves the needs of the person. Verbal attacks upon others occur daily and fake news and innuendo have become okay to use as fact. People will trample others to get the sale item when in limited quantities. Often, we don’t hear thank you or please even when holding the door for others. Protests have replaced communication, problem solving, compromise, or even mutual discussion. Selfishness and materialism seem to have become the norm and are reinforced by our media. The needs of the one appears to be more important than the needs of the many.

    What has caused this in the past almost 50 years? We can point to many factors: fear, anger, the Vietnam War and others, the coming of age of the Internet, advertising, the pursuit of more money at the expense of others, the absence of appropriate role modeling by adults, drugs and alcohol, lies and deceit by politicians, celebrities, and broadcast news, serial abusers, Madoff type scandals, hidden agendas, and a silent society that allows these changes to occur. I am sure we can cite more causes.

    Can we ever regain respect for our society to function? I would like to be optimistic and think yes. We see it in the support our nation gives to others when there is a disaster. We see it when individuals volunteer their money and time to help those who are less fortunate. We see it in the dedicated teachers and first responders. We see it in many others who still honor our values.

    What can you do? Respect yourself. Follow the Golden Rule. Stick to your standards even though others may not. Say “thank you” and please. Smile at others. Be courteous. Let others get in front of you while driving. Just be concerned about the needs of the many rather than the needs of the one.

    As always, I am interested in your thoughts. If you would like to respond to this blog, email me your comments at and I will publish them next month.

    Till May…

    The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

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    If you find this information interesting or helpful, please forward this E-Letter to your contacts and friends. Copyright © 2018 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates.