Adryenn Ashley, Book Author - OPW Interview - Online Personals Watch: News on the Online Dating Industry and Business

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James Houran


Thanks for this very interesting interview. Adryenn is quite articulate, and I like way she thinks.

James Houran, Ph.D.

Dr. Joel Block

I was interested by Ms. Ashley’s views on why people divorce. Her response seems biased by what she concluded from her own experience. I would like to suggest another way to conceptualize her experience. She contends the basis for divorce is financial stress. I’m afraid she’s way off the mark. It’s not stress of any kind—it’s how the couple handle stress. Stress is part of life. And so are differences between lovers. The research is solid—some happy couples actually have MORE stress and MORE differences—but they handle them more effectively than discordant couples.

Second marriages have a 67% divorce rate. Here’s why: many people overcorrect in second marriages. So, the woman who was married to Mr. Control Freak marries Mr. Almost in a Coma. And, it is refreshing…for a while. Typically, she gets it right in her third marriage.

The biggest stress in second marriages is parenting someone else’s children. Yes, finances are a factor, definitely, but money is NOT the main factor. Come on, lots of rich people, where money is not a strain, get divorced.

The point is, Ms. Ashley is taking HER issue and making it the headline. In my view it’s a back page story. Rule #1 read the divorce decree? Please! Is this a Wall Street deal or a love relationship? This isn’t to say finances are unimportant, but if you make money ALL IMPORTANT, you ought to be going into business, not love. Making sure you are financially compatible is important, but to elevate that issue to #1 for making a marriage work is, well, ridiculous.

Who am I to make these statements? 1) A psychologist with more than 30 years in the clinical trenches specializing in love and sexuality. 2) A stepchild twice—I know second and third year marriages from a personal perspective 3) After nearly 20 published books on relationships, I am quite capable of knowing the difference between a superficial “Cosmo take” on these issues such as Ms. Ashley’s and the real deal.

Full disclosure, my forthcoming book with Adams Media, The Real Reasons Men Commit: Why He Will—or Will Not—Love, Honor and Marry You has a December pub date. I am also the creator of ButterfliesAgain, ( ) an I-dating site compatibility test.

Lastly, if you disagree, come at me, try kicking my butt. It inspires me!

James Houran

"Money questions will be treated by cultured people in the same manner as sexual matters, with the same inconsistency, prudishness, and hypocrisy."

- Freud, 1913

Dear All,

Readers should make no mistake... money and sex are among the leading sources of conflict and disagreement in intimate relationships (Goldberg, 1987, Stanley et al., 2002). Indeed, as Freud’s comment suggests, issues pertaining to money and sex can lead people to behave irrationally and unfairly towards others.

Disagreements in sex and money (and other issues) have a common root: control issues. With this in mind, I personally didn't take Adryenn's comments to mean that money is the "only" issue. My understanding was that she identified money as a critical source of imbalance in some relationships and that couples should discuss their expectations prior to making a complete commitment. Her example of money is highly relevant but merely a case study of one source of disagreement couples will almost surely face. I didn't assume her position to be that marriages are entirely due to money problems. In fact she says as much in this interview. She simply took one issue on which couples tend to focus (money, which is really about power) and discussed practical tactics to help address the issue.

Extending that view further, I think Adryenn speaks sense in that couples need to "disclose and discuss" their expectations for all aspects of the relationship before taking that relationship to the next level. Too often, rose-colored glasses and feelings of euphoria blind couples to these underlying but salient variables that speak to long-standing compatibility.

Long-term compatibility is not simply about passion/raw sexual attraction, personality traits or the degree of similarities or differences across demographic variables. The research is clear on this issue: accommodation/negotiation (psychological compatibility) is the glue that keeps couples together over the long term.

The process of identifying and working through disagreements is best started as soon as the couple is thinking about taking the relationship to the next level, rather than after serious commitments have already been made.

Lastly, let me address a specific criticism that Dr. Block made above re: biased viewpoints. Adryenn might be biased in her views, but that doesn't automatically detract from the validity of some of her observations. Indeed, everyone is biased to some degree. Dr. Block confesses his own biases in his remarks -- his personal experiences being a specialist in clinical work, a twice stepchild, working with couples and writing books. Those experiences can provide valuable insights for sure, but that doesn't mean they provide the best, most comprehensive picture of the issues at hand.

That said, I have my own biases that stem from my professional and personal background. Couples have biases too -- on probably most any topic. Sometimes partners know about each other's views and expectations, and sometimes they don't. Sometimes partners discuss biases and worldviews and sometimes they don't.

Adryenn identified an excellent first step that couples should make -- disclose and discuss biases and expectations about financies. Couples can do it now and perhaps work through disagreements, or they can do it later through an attorney.


James Houran, Ph.D.


Freud, S. (1913). On beginning the treatment. Standard Edition, Vol. 1. London: Hogarth Press. Pp. 126-133.

Goldberg, M. (1987). Patterns of disagreement in marriage. Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality, 21, 42-52.

Stanley, S. M., Markman, H. J., and Whitton, S. W. (2002). Communication, conflict, and commitment: insights on the foundations of relationship success from a national survey. Family Process, 41, 659-675.

Joel Block, Ph.D.

James, I'm pleased that my comments triggered a more thoughtful response on your part than your original, "I like the way she thinks."

Freud aside (if you've studied him, and I have, genius that he was, he knew little about relationships--his brilliance was intrapersonal, not interpersonal), I stand by my main point.

Ms. Ashley's interview was too much ado about very little. Once again, speaking of research--and yes, everything is biased--but some bias is better than others--it is not conflict/differences/stress that is the issue.

It is how these inevitable factors are handled. That is key, and brings optimism to the marital challenge. Rather than be demoralized by their issues, couples can learn time proven skills that will keep their passion alive.

As for my own bias--after going through my mother's divorces in Bensonhurst where no one else got divorced, my main bias--and I have said it in my books--is not neutrality, the common therapist position.

I am in the business of assisting couples to stay together intimately. My reputation, well earned here in NY, is the couple therapist of last resort.

By reputation alone I was awarded Outstanding Couple Therapist by a professional organization I don't even belong to. This is my life's work. I am at the intersection of doing what I love and doing it very well. Ah, what a sweet spot!

Best wishes, James.

I appreciate your thoughts, despite my disagreement. (See, this exchange--differing views between us--is exactly what I'm talking about. This is what couples better, but often don't do!)


James Houran

Hi Joel,

I, too, stand by my original comment -- I like the way Adreyenn thinks. To me her main ideas were valid and clear and didn't require detailed comment in reply.

I thought your comments mischaracterized her position(s) and essentially missed the gist of her arguments. That's what motivated me to expound.

As for conflicts per se being the source of break ups -- the latest research on this disagrees with your clinical impressions. Indeed, some topics carry more weight and more difficult for a couple to find accommodation on than other topics. To some extent, the qualitative aspects of relationship conflicts is idiosyncratic. However, there are some general trends with reasonably good replication. In other words, it is fairly predictable what men versus women will focus on as a source of disagreement. So, I assert that the specific topic of conflict does matter to an extent.

Oh, and yes, I have studied Freud and the psychodynamic field to a great extent. While Freud's ideas mostly focused on intrapersonal conflict, he was also keen to talk about how these conflicts affected/influenced interpersonal relationships (especially sexually oriented issues). The main thrust in citing Freud (no pun intended) was to illustrate that sex and money primarily come down to control issues. And control issues are predominant in the break up of couples.


James Houran, Ph.D.

Joel Block, Ph.D.

James, do you remember the story of the two schizophrenics arguing over which one was God? Essentially, it was a power/control issue.

Finally, one said, "Okay, you can be God!" I'm not schizophrenic (or God!)last time I checked, but I'll let you have the last word!

Enjoy the holiday weekend.


James Houran


Your behavior is inconsistent with that of an “award- winning clinician.”

First, without provocation you insulted me with a flippant, disrespectful and dismissive comment I made about Adreyenn’s interview. You wrote:

“James, I'm pleased that my comments triggered a more thoughtful response on your part than your original, "I like the way she thinks."”

Second, you would seem to invite (and even welcome) a contrary point of view to yours when you wrote:

“Lastly, if you disagree, come at me, try kicking my butt. It inspires me!”

And when someone does post a different perspective that challenges your views you revert back to flippant, disrespectful and dismissive comments. Even worse is you used an analogy that’s demeaning to individuals with delusions of grandeur. I was trained and worked as a clinician myself, and that background included work with schizophrenics and various other thought and mood disorders. Your analogy was neither funny nor cute. Bad form, Joel.

The control issues and dismissiveness you display are exactly the type of behaviors that kill many committed relationships. I certainly hope your behavior with clients is different than the way you communicate and present yourself here.

Debating the issues – not personal attacks -- is what OPW is all about. Please don’t equate educated challenges or rebuttals to your comments with a God complex on my part.

Being America you have a right to voice your personal and professional opinions. However, you should keep in mind that some contributors on OPW are at least as educated and knowledgeable as you. Therefore, put to rest the condescension.

Enjoy your weekend as well,

James Houran, Ph.D.

Kerry Gray

Let's get back to the website and book of the interview subject. I found her website to be little more than "fluff", and her link that sends you to the wealthy women summit site is a big waste of time. The wealthy women's site, run by Alicia Dunams, offers free chapters of her book and a newsletter when you sign up, which I did, but have gotten nothing since. I wonder again what the email addresses collected on sites like this are used for. It seems you have to be more and more discerning when using the internet; so much of what you come across only wastes your time.

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