A woman--clad in a hat, a stylish suit, seamed nylons and high heels--sits alone in a busy restaurant. She smokes a cigarette and scans the crowd with her sultry eyes.
Suddenly, a mysterious stranger enters the room. He's handsome and sharply dressed in a suit and fedora. Their eyes meet. She blushes. He walks over, gently takes her hand and says hello.
A beautiful love affair begins.
Scenes like these in old movies make relationships look easy. Remember George and Mary in It's a Wonderful Life? They seemed to fall in love at first glance.
But in today's high-divorce-rate society, we're often not living a wonderful life. To get some insight as to why we're not, I sat down with local love-relationship coach Bill White.
With 25 years of experience in counseling and coaching, White began to specialize in love relationships in 2000. White, who is currently single, says his decision to enter this work stemmed from his personal past.
"I've experienced a lot of difficulty in relationships. I grew up with well-meaning but very unhealthy parents. ... I do this (work) so that there's a new model for couples' relationships so couples are healthy and treat each other with kindness and respect."
White stresses the importance of determining your requirements in a mate before heading out into the dating world.
"There's a certain amount of homework and preparation. We just think that relationships happen naturally and easily. For some people, they do, but for a lot, they don't. If you go on a camping trip, you just don't throw a few things together and run off to the woods. (Similarly), in relationships, you want to think about what you want and what you need."
For couples, White teaches how to have healthy relationships. But first, there's the question of what's going wrong.
"My viewpoint is that a key problem in relationships not working is that we don't know how to resolve our emotional upsets and conflicts with each other. If you don't know how to do that, your chances of a relationship being healthy and lasting are very slim."
In his work, White teaches couples how to eliminate arguments and fighting.
Say again? Eliminate? No fighting or arguing?
Not in White's world. "That's pretty big," he admits.
"The problem with arguing and fighting is that people think that anger is the problem, and anger management is the solution. Anger is not the real problem. The problem is what triggered your anger, and that can be boiled down to two emotions: fear and grief.
"When we feel scared or hurt, we want to feel more protected, so we get angry. When we relate from anger, it causes the other person to go into anger."
"It's not pretty. It's not attractive. It's to be vulnerable. ... If you are soft and open and talk about your fear and hurts, apologize and look within, you can resolve emotional upsets with people almost 100 percent of the time."
For those who might scoff and insist that arguing is human nature, White counters: "If the end result does not bring you closer to the other person, there is a better alternative."
White teaches his "emotional-upset technology" in a workshop called "The Anger and Argument Solution." He says the first step in the process is to treat each other with kindness and respect. And that has a global effect.
"I don't think it's possible to have peace on the planet if we can't get along with each other. ... When individuals start having this new language of communication, respect and connection, the possibility of a world without war becomes possible. That's what I'm about."
We're so used to arguing with one another that White's concepts may sound startling at first. But there's success in his approach. Several clients called me to give testimonials. One is a licensed counselor.
So when we are in the throes of emotional upset with our partners, White's method of taking a moment to get in touch with what's really bothering us, and voicing that calmly and honestly, may just lead us all in a new direction. His approach is surely off the beaten path.
But as Robert Frost wrote in "The Road Not Taken," the road less traveled made all the difference. And maybe there, we'll find a wonderful life.