Who’d of Thunk?

Ralph Earle Blog August 2018

45 years ago Glenda and I co-founded PCS. 60 years ago, on June 6th, we were married. Glenda is full of grace or we would not be currently married. Among the affirmations that I make daily include having gratitude for the health I do have, for my family, which includes Marcus, whom many of you know and is the Clinical Director at PCS. It is certainly great to have the privilege of working with Marcus for 30 years. It was very helpful to Marcus and me when approximately 32 years ago he and I were “Marilynized”. For those of you who know, have done therapy or read some of Marilyn Murray’s writings, or have been exposed to them in other ways, being “Marilynized” is a great way to get to know yourself.

PCS is a family program that involves Glenda, myself, Marcus full time and our daughter, Michelle as a consultant.

Who’d of Thunk that being married to me could be a good deal for Glenda, or for that matter, any woman. The process of getting to 60 years of marriage has at times been painful. 23 years into our marriage I did individual therapy. We did couples’ therapy and family therapy that led to a 25th anniversary, which was a redoing of our marriage vows in a way that was a process celebrating a much better marriage than when we got married originally on June 6, 1958. I have learned to “rat on myself” and to take accountability. Glenda also has worked on herself. The combination individual therapy for both of us, couples’ therapy and family therapy has been very helpful to getting us to the place where our marriage, at this point, is the best it’s ever been – that’s what Glenda says and what I say. We are still under construction and working on continued improvement and being better at being helpful to ourselves and each other.

Another concept, which is a “new kid on the block” to me is the term “enlightened selfishness”. I am grateful that I am married because I know that I would rather be married than not married and I am married to the person I would most likely to be married to. My story is that on June 6, 1958 I got married before I was ready to get married and didn’t know that. Gratefully, Glenda and I have, and continue to do the work, to have the marriage we both deserve.

Enlightened selfishness helps me to understand that I would rather be married than single. Because I am married to the person that I would most likely to be married to, behavioral changes make me a better deal for myself and for Glenda. Therapy for this therapist has been enormously helpful. The product of therapy means the most to me because of my own growth and continuing need, at age 81, to be under construction.

Another important area is that Glenda has helped me to “listen – learn” in a way that is different than my parents and grandparents did. Because I believe in the golden rule, it makes sense that it is a fundamental necessity that goes against my basic, instinctual nature. Knowing that there is no “cure” for me and at the same time I can keep in “remission” the parts of me that “nuke” my wife and that I am the one who is a bigger loser when I do that. A specific change is that at times when I am thinking about saying something that would be unproductively hurtful to Glenda, and would also then end up hurting me, when Glenda and I are alone, “shut up Ralph”. She doesn’t ask me what was I going to say.

Glenda and I have a commitment that if either one of us believes that we need to get marital therapy, the other will say yes and we know that we are never too old to need therapy. When needed, we will make that happen.

Some of the areas that have become important to me in this stage of life – ala Eric Ericson’s “Generativity” include working with people who are already married who come to PCS either as individuals in a marriage or as a couple. We use the term “premarital therapy” for people who have become legally married and yet need to come to a place in their marriage where the marriage may be in the “ER Room” and either becomes a healthier marriage or may end. We at PCS are biased and would love to see relationships improve and hate to see “divorce for the wrong reasons.” I am privileged to be a part of a group in which there are 27 therapists who have their individual strengths, personalities and specialties which are brought to bear in our Intensive Outpatient Program.

Scott Peck wrote that “life is difficult.” Marriage is difficult and can be incredibly rewarding.

Recently, I heard a friend who started the Arizona Interfaith Movement and our yearly Golden Rule Banquet state “I am the luckiest man in the world.” That friend died of Lou Gehrig’s disease and was quoting Lou Gehrig when he was physically debilitated by what we now call Lou Gehrig’s disease, making that statement at Yankee Stadium. I write this because “I am the luckiest man in the world” and know that. I am lucky to be in the marriage I am in and to be a father and grandfather. The only name our grandkids use for me is “Cuckoo.” Those of you who know me will know that it is a clinical diagnosis from grandkids, as well as an intimate term, which means a lot to me. Within the last couple of years, I have had the privilege as “Reverend Cuckoo” to perform the wedding for two of our grandkids and their partners.

Another piece of gratitude is, the people who have mentored me – my wife, kids and grandkids mentor me. Mentors who have been professors of mine include two people who knew Bill W, who started AA. Reinhold Niebuhr, who authored the Serenity Prayer, which we use regularly Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the end of group was one of my profs. Another prof did his degree at Columbia in Alcoholism and was involved in the beginning of AA. As some of you know, I am an ordained minister who believes that the rigorous honesty that occurs in 12 step groups and in therapy settings such as PCS, provides a depth, including an understanding of what “the Imperfection of Spirituality” really means in all of our lives.

Thanks for your interest in PCS and those of you who have been to PCS as clients, please keep us posted as alumni of our PCS family.

 

By Ralph Earle, Founder & Clinical Director