Couples Fight Over Green Issues

03/23/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Linda Buzzell Psychotherapist, ecotherapist, co-editor of "Ecotherapy: Healing With Nature in Mind"

In today's New York Times (Jan 18) I was interviewed on the rise in couple and family conflict over green issues. The piece is "Therapists Report Increase in Green Disputes" by Leslie Kaufman.

We're all barraged daily by endless alarming news reports on how the way we live, eat, shop, drive, and fly impacts the planet, the economy, society, and even creates wars -- so it's not surprising that more and more of us are waking up to the need to green up our lives.

The trouble arises when different members of a family wake up at different rates and then have very different ideas about what changes they need to make - if any!

Couples, families and therapists all need to educate themselves about how to change our daily habits into their sustainable alternatives in a way that doesn't completely disrupt our relationships with loved ones. It's not an easy process. Sometimes it's your spouse who wants to go green, and sometimes it's the kids demanding that mom and dad get with it.

If you're having these discussions with your loved ones, you might want to check out the story.

"As awareness of environmental concerns has grown, therapists say they are seeing a rise in bickering between couples and family members over the extent to which they should change their lives to save the planet.
In households across the country, green lines are being drawn between those who insist on wild salmon and those who buy farmed, those who calculate their carbon footprint and those who remain indifferent to greenhouse gases...
Linda Buzzell, a family and marriage therapist for 30 years who lives in Santa Barbara and is a co-editor of "Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind," cautions that the repercussions of environmental differences can be especially severe for couples.
"The danger arises when one partner undergoes an environmental 'waking up' process way before the other, leaving a new values gap between them," Ms. Buzzell said.
Changing the family diet because of environmental concerns can be particularly loaded, Ms. Buzzell added... "Food is such an emotional issue," she said...
Ms. Buzzell suggests that couples can overcome such differences if they treat each other gently. She advises partners who have a newfound passion for the issue to change only a few things at a time and provide lots of explanation.
"It is like exercise," Ms. Buzzell said. "Take it slowly."

For more info: "Therapists Report Increase in Green Disputes," by Leslie Kaufman