Tag Archives: CrisMarie

The Richness in Couples Alive!

We are preparing to lead the next Couples Alive I & II, April 15-19 and April 19-23.  These programs are part of the Couples Alive Series that is offered up at The Haven.  We love leading these programs!! One, because we get to work together and two, because we can deeply engage with people who share our passion for relating, loving and living with a partner, friend and lover on this human experience journey.

In preparation for the Couples Alive I:  Foundations – Communication & Boundaries, I received a call from someone who was considering the program.  They shared that as individuals and a couple, they were deeply skilled in psychology and relationship skills and were wondering if this Foundation program would be the best choice.  The easy answer was to simply say it was required.  (Which is true – but I am never fond of getting a ‘rule’ thrown back at me. So I wanted a better response.)

When we were designing this series as a three couple team, CrisMarie & I, were quick to volunteer to take all of the series as participants when each program, I, II and III was launched.  We wanted to fully emerge ourselves in the material both as a way to prepare for leading and also to test our theory that the models and material is powerful and useful for couples at all stages of relationship.

Indeed, when we took each of the programs, we had no problem using the tools and experiences offered to explore the landscape of our relationship.  Though I have close to 30 years of experience teaching the communication model, I always find rich new depth in applying it to my own world and relationship.  That one model alone is the best tool I know for peeling back the layers of my life and bridging the gap between my world view and that of another.  Besides there really isn’t ever an end or finish-line when it comes to intimacy.  I know I am always evolving, involving, shifting and sticking and there’s enough discovery there for a lifetime.  As a couple there’s infinite possibility.

I also reflected on the couples who had been with us in the Couples Alive I, Foundations that we have led.  Again, I was struck by the variety and diversity.  We have had newlyweds to couples married for over 40 plus years. We have had same-sex, heterosexual, monogamous and poly-amorous couples all in the same group.  We have had couples who were thinking of separating, who live a part and one couple, that was separated but wanted to try again.  Yes, there has been an amazing scope and range in the couples who have been in the Couples Alive I, Foundations program.

It works because we designed it so that the couple gets to work on their issues, whatever they may be. Concepts and models are introduced (or refreshed). Then the truly rich possibilities come through applying these ideas within the container of each unique couple. The models are simple, universal and deep. They can be utilized at any stage in the life-cycle of a couple: from romance to power-struggle through to co-creation, over and over again.

Add to that, the opportunity for couples to learn from and share with other couples and the possibilities are endless. One of the richest parts of the series is watching couples learn and grow through simply knowing they are not alone, the the couple journey is really not a formula. It’s alive, organic and riddled with highs, lows and status quos.  Sometimes, the best learning is simply that there isn’t really something wrong!

Yes, the Couples Alive I is called Foundations but it isn’t simply for those Couples just starting the journey. Foundations are worth exploring anytime.  Come and join us!!




There’s No calling “CUT” in Theater or in Life

CrisMarie is deep into another play, Private Eyes by Steven Dietz produced by Stumptown Players and directed by Scarlett Schindler here in Whitefish, MT. She is playing Lisa, the female lead in a five person cast. (Meet the cast here.)


This is always an exciting time.  I enjoy the energy and aliveness that reverberates around the house, as she becomes her character. First, there’s the initial thrill of getting the part! That generally doesn’t last too long. Because within a few days of the first rehearsal, there is that moment of awakening, when the workload becomes clear and the calling to dive into the part, sort of takes over everything else.  For CrisMarie, that’s usually when she’s getting down her lines.  This involves hours of walking and listening to the ipod with her lines and cues recorded.  Sometimes, it’s me that takes on all the other characters and makes sure each line is perfected.  This can be a very trying experience.  I am not always the best at reading through the script over and over. I tend to get distracted. Plus, I am also not always thrilled to give up hours of our days for her ‘extra’ rehearsal time.  The evenings are already a given. So I like having the daytime for us and our work.  Still, I know it’s the actor’s calling, and she loves it.

The second phase is really the hardest for her.  This is often when she may start to doubt herself or realizes that there is some greater challenge to this part that she may be avoiding while memorizing lines.  In some ways, I like this phase the best because there is the dive she takes into having to face her fears and challenge some part of herself.  Acting simply never seems to just be about lines and becoming a part outside of yourself.  No, I think that good actors always know the work comes from inside.  Discovering how the character is like some aspect of them and demands pulling from a well deep inside.  The vulnerability and courage it takes to not just do that work but also put that out on a stage.  Well, that is awesome. It also very similar to the work of leading a Come Alive or a Phase program, where people are diving deep into themselves and discovering the choices they make and how that impacts their world and their relationships.

Private Eyes Poster

It is why I often end up attending the show night after night.  Because it isn’t the same every night.  The script generally stays the same (though there are almost always a few dropped lines) but the people don’t.  There’s a chemistry that gets set-up with each show.  Not just between the actors but with the people in the audience watching.  It’s magical.  Some nights are awesome and others may be not quite so grand.  With theater there isn’t a safety net. So when it works, it’s amazing, and when it doesn’t, well it’s not like anyone can call “cut”.  No, when the chemistry is off or different, the actors have to dive deep, depend on each other, work together even if the lines are off or the moment gets lost.  That too is very similar to being a part of a month long intensive program where some days the magic isn’t happening but you still have to show up and count on the team and the people around you to hang in.

This time I won’t be here for opening night.  I won’t even be here for one of the shows.  I am heartbroken.  I love seeing CrisMarie on the stage, and I enjoy watching the team effort and commitment that goes into making Community Theater.  This show, Private Eyes, is on while I am up at The Haven leading a Living Alive Phase program.  This time we will each be doing work very close to our hearts but not together on the same stage.  So I am reaching out to all my friends, both here and outside Montana and inviting folks to come and see the show!  It’s a comedy. Based on the fun ride I have been having as CrisMarie preps for her role as Lisa, I have come to enjoy the variety of characters and the interesting twist the storyline takes.  I think it will be a great show, and I know it will be heartfelt and real, because that is simply the nature of Community Theater!!

For more details on dates and show times visit: Stumptown’s Online Ticket Sales    It at Kalispell’s historic KM building, which has an intimate charm.  Come to Montana.  Come see the show.