Welcome to the Media Room

Thanks for visiting the Media Room for Reigniting the Spark: Why Stable Relationships Lose Intimacy, and How to Get It Back by Dr. Bruce Chalmer.

If you’d like to schedule an interview with Dr. Chalmer, please complete this form. We’ll respond promptly–we take your time seriously and appreciate your interest.

Below you’ll find an outline of this Media Room. I look forward to connecting with you! 

Dr. Bruce Chalmer

P.S.: If you’d like to check out the introduction to the book, here it is. And check out the three and a half minute video on this page for more information.

Reigniting the Spark by Dr. Bruce Chalmer

Outline of this Media Room

Sample Interview Questions

Woman wondering about loveWhat to ask even if you haven’t read the book yet:

  1.  Your book is organized around a seven-word formula. Where did that come from?

  2.  How does your formula help couples improve their relationship?

  3.  You talk in the book about stability and intimacy as two basic needs for relationships. What’s the difference, and why does it matter?

  4.  You have a whole section in the book about faith. But you also distinguish between faith and religion, and especially between faith and fundamentalism. What do you mean by faith, and why is it important in relationships?

  5.  How has your own faith influenced how you work with couples?

  6.  How can couples heal from big betrayals like infidelity?

  7.  You have a chapter called “Sex, Good Sex, and Sacred Sex.” What are the differences, and how do couples learn to go from plain old to good to sacred?

Praise for the book

“Reading this book is like breathing fresh Vermont air-–

refreshing, inspiring, down-to-earth, and filled with grounded wisdom that emerges from decades of practice as a therapist with hundreds of couples. Dr. Chalmer gives a message of hope infused with principles and skills for long-term relationships to survive and thrive in the 21st century…I am especially inspired by his willingness to bring spiritual lives—religious and nonreligious–into the conversation, exploring with couples what matters most to each of them, while dealing with life’s inevitable uncertainties and struggles.”
Peggy Sax, Ph.D., Psychologist, Executive Director of Re-Authoring Teaching

Troubled senior couple“I learned so much from this book that I can use in counseling couples,

a significant part of my work as a rabbi.  Far from being simplistic or reductionist, this book brings a complex and multi-faceted approach to how choice, kindness, and faith can help heal relationships and bring greater meaning and vitality to life.   Dr. Chalmer is refreshing in his focus on character, the habits of kindness, and the disciplines of stability, rather than focusing solely on feelings as so many other books have.  Whether you’re a believer or agnostic, this book will help clinicians and clients alike consider deeply how faith, something so often overlooked in session, can be effectively integrated into an effective approach to healing relationships.”

Rabbi David Edleson, D.Div., Temple Sinai, South Burlington, Vermont

“In Reigniting the Spark, Bruce Chalmer offers a fresh, straightforward, and accessible understanding

of how people in relationships—or those wishing to help them—can strengthen and light up those relationships. His seven-word formula, “Be kind, don’t panic, and have faith,” is neither dumbed-down nor a shortcut, but captures the essence of the work—and the opening up—that must be done to build or rebuild a relationship that thrives. And in particular, the final two words of that formula are a crucial part of what it takes. Dr. Chalmer does a wonderful job of explaining what faith is not, and then proceeds to show how faith provides what might be called a living posture toward the future, even amid the complicated realities in which we all live. As the author of the Letter to the Hebrews, from my own tradition, puts it: “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Turning the corner into the future opens up great possibility for any relationship, and this book will be fundamentally helpful for anyone seeking to “reignite the spark.”

Rev. Michael Brown, Retired Pastor Emeritus, Presbyterian Church (USA)Fellow, American Association of Pastoral Counselors (Retired)

Key Topics

Reigniting the Spark by Dr. Bruce ChalmerThe seven-word formula: Be kind, don’t panic, and have faith

Be kind

    • Kind, in the sense of kinship; couples thrive when they experience each other as kin; “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine”
    • They tend to assume good will  even when they’re bothered by something
    • In order to be kind, you need to not panic–so:

Don’t panic

    • Anxiety is a necessary human function, but evolution errs on the side of caution: we descended from those who panicked too much rather than too little
    • When we panic, we go into fight/flight mode or freeze mode, neither of which allow for kindness
    • Unhealed trauma can make us especially prone to panic, in ways that can wreak havoc in relationships
    • Healing from trauma can take work–denial doesn’t help
    • How do you avoid panic? The answer is:

And have faith

    • Faith is when you accept that reality is right, in the sense that reality is both orderly and good to be that way

Stability and intimacy: We need them both, even though they conflict

  • The chief skill of stability is to avoid or lower anxiety; stability requires character, which means acting according to values of right and wrong even when it’s difficult
  • The chief skill of intimacy isn’t reducing or avoiding anxiety; it’s tolerating anxiety. Intimacy often requires us to risk raising our own and our partner’s anxiety, rather than avoiding it
  • Long-term, stable couples often avoid the anxiety of intimacy because it feels too risky to stability
  • But that can lead to a death-spiral for passion in a relationship
Why faith matters, even if you’re not religious
  • To reverse the death-spiral for passion requires that you tolerate anxiety, rather than avoiding it–and that requires faith
  • You develop faith by choosing it, by finding teachers, and by practicing it; it’s not a set of beliefs or knowledges, it’s a skill
  • Faith isn’t what you believe; what you believe, what the facts are, is a matter for science
  • Rather, faith shapes how you believe–it’s about the basic recognition that reality is right to be what it is, even when it’s painful, and even when we realize we aren’t always able to understand it
  • Faith is the antidote to panic

Faith versus fundamentalism: Why they are actually opposites

  • Faith means accepting the rightness of reality–part of which is recognizing that we can’t have all the answers; faith makes you humble in claims of certainty, and open to other points of view
  • Fundamentalism claims certainty, even if that means closing yourself to new information–it’s the opposite of accepting the rightness of reality; fundamentalism fosters condescension (“we love you so much we’ll save you from your stupidity”) and bigotry (“we hate you because you’re evil”)

How to know when to call it quits, and when to work through the growing pains in your relationship

  • Some problems are deal-breakers–e.g., you can’t agree on whether to have a child; there’s no compromise possible
  • But if it’s not a deal-breaker, it’s a growing pain. For growing pains:
    • Don’t break up too soon
    • Get hold of yourself
    • Get to the right argument

Sex, good sex, and sacred sex

  • If you view sex positively, are comfortable with your own body, and have basic knowledge of how things work, you’re ready to move from plain old sex to good sex
  • Plain old sex becomes good sex when you can be fully present and fully alive–i.e., when you can not just connect, but connect intimately
  • Like other forms of intimacy, good sex requires that you tolerate anxiety rather than avoiding it
  • “Sacred” means dedicated to a higher purpose; good sex becomes sacred sex when it is elevated, dedicated to something beyond ordinary connection

About the Author

Dr. Bruce Chalmer has been a psychologist working with couples for over thirty years. Through his teaching, consulting, and videos about relationships, his ideas have helped thousands of couples and their therapists.

He has held leadership positions in some of Vermont’s Jewish communities, and is also a musician and composer. He lives in South Burlington, Vermont with his wife, Judy Alexander. They are the hosts of the podcast “Couples Therapy in Seven Words.”

Visit Dr. Chalmer’s practice website and blog.

How to Order

Reigniting the Spark is available through your favorite bookstore, as well as online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Publisher: TCK Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-63161-079-0