Q: Why did you create a marriage and relationship advice website?
Dr. Nicastro: Survey people and I think you’ll find that most feel their marriage or relationship is the most important part of their life. If someone’s not in a relationship, finding a romantic partner often becomes a top priority. As a psychologist and relationship coach, I’ve worked with many people who were very successful in business and other areas of life but longed to share themselves emotionally with a soul-mate. Wanting to feel deeply connected to and share yourself with someone you love and care about is a universal need. I created StrengthenYourRelationship.com to give people the information and relationship tools they’ll need to meet this need.
Q: Why do so many couples seem to need help?
Dr. Nicastro: At the outset of a marriage or relationship, many don’t prepare for the time ahead as they would for a trip or a career. And once in love and committed to one another, people generally do very little ongoing maintenance to keep their relationship healthy. Sure, when all hell is breaking loose, they’ll call a marriage therapist or couples counselor or consult with a friend, but prior to that, do you think people consistently perform “relationship self-care?” Too often the answer is NO.
We’re more likely to make certain that our cars, computers, and iPhones are functioning properly, than to consistently attend to our relationships. Yet people seem to realize that it’s vital to nurture business relationships for extended periods of time in order to be successful and financially secure. For some reason, we often don’t approach our spouse/partner with the same thoughtfulness that we give to a business relationship.
Most of us assume that our romantic relationships will be self-sufficient and require little ongoing effort. This is probably because a romantic relationship can feel so natural and easy in the beginning and couples end up assuming that the effortless emotional connection that occurs early on will be the norm for the life of the relationship. The divorce rates and frequency of failed relationships strongly suggest that falling in love will not ensure long-term success on its own. We need help in this area! We shouldn’t wait for major marriage problems or relationship trouble to emerge before giving continual attention to our relationships.
Q: Are you saying it’s important for people to try different things and do more than they already are?
Dr. Nicastro: Now you’re catching on. People spend tons of money on health foods, gyms, home exercise equipment, alternative medicine, specialists, etc. Why? Because decades of research have shown us the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and many people have changed the way they live because of this information. There’s good reason that preventive medicine is now big business–the decisions and action you take today can dramatically impact tomorrow’s outcome.
The same principle applies to one’s marriage or relationship.
In my work with couples, I’ve also seen how the quality of a person’s relationship impacts other areas of his/her life. For instance, take someone who is a highly motivated person who is healthy, energetic and really enjoys her/his career. Now imagine that at some point this person’s marriage/relationship starts to fall apart.
What do you think happens?
Before you know it, this same healthy, vibrant person may become depressed, suffer from significant anxiety, have trouble sleeping, feel fatigued and lethargic most of the time, find it difficult to focus at work…In other words, almost EVERY aspect of life is negatively impacted when your relationship is out of balance, or worse, failing. Doesn’t this strongly suggest that ongoing care of your marriage/relationship should be a top priority?
Q: What makes you qualified to write about relationships?
Dr. Nicastro: Good question! I get really excited about helping people, especially when it involves working with them to create greater fulfillment and intimacy in their marriage or romantic relationship. I’ve been working with individuals and couples for more than fifteen years as a psychologist and more recently as a relationship coach. In addition to working with couples, I love teaching and I’ve taught undergraduate and graduate psychology students at several different universities. I also give teleclasses and workshops on a wide range of marital/relationship topics and men’s issues. I find it inspiring to communicate my passion to groups of people.
Q: Do you practice what you preach in your own life?
Dr. Nicastro: I really try. Each day (OK, most days) I set an intention to be a better husband. I have found that the practice of setting intentions (what some might refer to as goals) has a profound impact on how I act and react in life. At times I’ll write about what has worked (and what hasn’t) for me and my wife. And yes, she knows I’ll be writing about our relationship, including its foibles.
I think it’s important for couples to know that we’re all struggling with similar issues and we’re vulnerable to getting hooked into unhealthy relationship patterns. Some of the most well-known relationship experts in the field have openly talked about their own struggles with intimacy and long-term relationships. To me, this shows we’re all in this together, trying to make sense of the complexities of love and how to make committed relationships survive and thrive.
Q: Can you tell us anything else about yourself beyond your profession?
Dr. Nicastro: Sure. What I love doing: Spending time with my family, learning, trying new restaurants, reading and writing, lingering in coffee shops (people-watching, working on my laptop), hiking (OK, it’s usually more of a walk/stroll than an official hike), and exploring the southwest. I also love to make people laugh and challenge them to think in ways that expand who they are.
What I’m working on: I continue to create marriage help and relationship advice workbooks and programs. Personally, I try to meditate everyday. Boy, it’s easier said than done, but so worth the effort–I haven’t learned how to detach from all that nagging mind-chatter yet. Also, I’m trying to get my two cats to coexist peacefully. Oddly, the cats love the dogs but Eddy and Charlotte have made it very clear that their lives would be better served without each other. So far my efforts at feline conflict resolution have not been successful.