Monthly Archives: December 2013

Danny & Annie—May They Stir Your Heart

A colleague of mine sent this heartwarming video to me some time ago. It is fitting that, at the end of the year, we take stock of who we have been and how we have attended to the people and events in our lives that have mattered, and recommit ourselves to being and doing our best in 2014.



“…True love should be as committed and sacrificial as this. What if this video was required as pre-marriage
counseling for every young couple in the world? We think it could do some serious good.”

The good folks at

I thank you for your faithful readership this past year and I look forward to continuing to provide posts every week that will support you to create, build and maintain the most joyful, satisfying and lasting relationships you can imagine!

The dedicated team at joins me and wishes you and yours a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2014.

Remember, only YOU can make it happen!


Original Content by Jackie Black, Ph.D., BCC
Video used with permission
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The Five Freedoms

Virginia Satir (1916-1988) was a pioneer in the field of Family Therapy and internationally acclaimed as a therapist, educator, and author. She was known for her special warmth and for her remarkable insight into human communication and self-esteem.

Based on her conviction that people are capable of continued growth, change and new understanding, her goal was to improve relationships and communication within the family unit. Virginia Satir stayed at the forefront of human growth and family therapy until her death in 1988.

In facilitating Couple’s communication discussions, I routinely provide The Five Freedoms in handout materials. No matter how many times I read them, I am always struck by the simplicity and powerfulness of Satir’s “Five Freedoms” and I am moved to a more connected place deep within myself.

I hope they are meaningful to you and would love to hear what you think! Please post your comments using the comment link below.


The Five Freedoms
By Virginia Satir

What is here,
Instead of what should be,
Was, or will be

What one feels and thinks
Instead of what one should

What one feels,
Instead of what one ought

For what one wants,
Instead of always waiting
For permission

In one’s own behalf,
Instead of choosing to be
Only “secure”
And not rocking the boat


Remember, only YOU can make it happen!


Original Content by Jackie Black, Ph.D., BCC
”The Five Freedoms”reprinted with permission ~
Scan the QR Code and download your Free MYMARRIAGECOACH App

Family Gift Giving for the Holidays

The holidays can be a stressful time of year for many people. Often you are juggling shopping, traveling, visiting and entertaining. For many of you, the most stressful part of the holidays is family gift giving.

Here are some suggestions to ease your stress:

Key questions to ask yourself:

  • Who do I want to buy gifts for?
  • How much do I want to spend?
  • What do I want to give?

Make a list of all of the people you would like to buy gifts for. Set a budget of how much you’d like to spend and then jot down at least two gift ideas for each person on your list.

Tips to reduce the number of gifts you buy:

  • Make a list of all family members, write each person’s name on a slip of paper, each adult selects one slip of paper and only buys a gift for that family member. You only have to buy one gift and no one gets left out.
  • Agree among all the adult gift-givers on a dollar limit and do not exceed the agreed-to amount when purchasing your gift.
  • Only buy gifts for children under 17 and grandparents.
  • For more distant relatives or friends, send a nice holiday card with a family photo instead of a gift.

Continue reading

The Joys and Dreads of Giving and Receiving Gifts

What do you think about giving and receiving gifts? Are you an enthusiastic, appreciative receiver or does getting a gift make you feel uncomfortable? Are you a spirited gift giver picking up small (or large) tokens of your esteem and affection wherever you go for the people you care about?

In a small survey I conducted over several months here’s what I discovered:

  • Women tend to be more comfortable than men giving gifts to family and friends not related to a special occasion.
  • Women are more apt than men to give a gift to a friend.
  • Men are willing and eager to buy gifts for loved ones especially for special occasions, though they feel enormously uncertain most of the time that the gift they buy will be valued and appreciated by the receiver.
  • Men have less of a need to receive a personal gift than women, particularly for birthdays and anniversaries.
  • Men are more welcoming and appreciative of a wider range of gifts than women.
  • Women make more meaning of the gifts they receive than men.

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Just Dating—The Do’s and Don’ts of Gift Giving

Well, it is that time of year again! Many of you around the world are beginning to think about holiday gift-giving. I believe that some issues in our lives come up over and over and that helpful reminders are timeless.

The holidays can be a confusing time for those who are “just” dating. There are so many considerations and questions that arise.


  • Should I buy him a gift?
  • Should I simply send her a card?
  • Am I cheap or selfish if I don’t want to buy a gift at this point in our relationship?
  • How will I look to him if I don’t?
  • Am I creating some kind of pressure for her if I do?
  • If I do, how much money should I spend?
  • How personal a gift should I/can I buy?
  • Is it okay to buy a gift that is simply a token of my enjoying his or her company?

Celebrations with Family and Friends:

  • Should I invite him to my family’s home to light Hanukah candles?
  • Should I invite her to my family’s for tree trimming/Midnight Mass/Christmas Eve/day/dinner?
  • Should I include him in the traditional gift exchange? Is it okay to ask him to pay for a gift?
  • Should I invite her to accompany me to my office party or to the homes of friends and family for holiday parties?
  • What message will it send if I do or if I don’t?
  • Is it rude to not include him or her?

Then there are even more quandaries and sticky situations you could find yourself in if you and your new Honey are of different faiths, or spiritual inclinations. And what if she has children or elderly parents living with her?

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Dr Jackie Black Newsletter

Hello. I am Dr. Jackie Black, your Couples in Trouble Expert. Since 1999, I have guided many formerly frustrated and desperately unhappy Couples in Trouble to happiness, closeness and having more fun together than they ever imagined. My years of experience combined with your commitment to your personal growth will enable you to welcome the results you have always wanted and never believed were possible in your marriage.

Learn more at