Nov 14, 2011

Author Interview: Dawn Kozarian - Married to the Enemy

Happy Monday, folks! Today I have author and Licensed Mental Health Counselor Dawn Kozarian on the blog! She's recently co-written the book Married to the Enemy with her husband, Mark James. Find out more about the book below and then check out the interview with Dawn!

Dawn Kozarian and Mark James - Married to the Enemy
A Guide to Overcoming the Obstacles to Intimacy When We Are Raised in a Culture that Uses Sexism and Stereotyping to Divide Us

• Pub. Date: June 2011
• Publisher: AuthorHouse
• Format: Paperback 168pp

Much of "Married to the Enemy" is about the authors individual and couple journey. By sharing their personal enlightenment on how our culture and family impacts our attitude with the opposite sex, we learn how to go from devaluing each other to a more respectful and honoring relationship. Throughout the book, the authors ask questions for you to reflect on to see how you may have developed a gender filter that keeps you from creating the intimacy that you would like to have with your partner. Good relationships are reciprocal, so the authors also provide an inventory that looks at how healthy the reciprocity is in your relationship. Ultimately, by accepting yourself and your partner as you really are, not as the gender culture says you should be, you are guided towards loving authentically. In loving genuinely, you can now experience the rewards of a love-based relationship, not a power-based one.

Meeting someone is a start; continuing a relationship with that person is progress; working together to create a positive and loving atmosphere is success. We come into this world with as much as half of our personality and inclinations present at birth. When we grow up with strong and excessive gender lines, these natural inclinations and personality tendencies tend to get blurred with what our interests should be and the type of personality we should have, whether it is true to our nature or not. For example: "I'm tough and can handle anything" image for a boy, and "I'm sexy, sweet, and submissive" image for a girl. These gender lines often leave us feeling like we are married to an opponent instead of a friend. Many couples may inadvertently begin playing a game of chess... looking to get the upper hand over the other. Imagine loving authentically, positively, and with acceptance. Imagine seeing the individual in front of you without the limitation of contrived gender expectations. How might you connect? What might you discover about your human commonality?

Mickey: Hi there, Dawn Kozarian! Welcome to the blog. Please introduce yourself.
Dawn: Hi Mickey! Well, I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with a private practice in Indianapolis. I enjoy working with couples and have always had an interest in how gender stereotypes impact us from the time we are born to when we find ourselves in an adult relationship with the opposite sex.

Mickey: Tell me about your book, Married to the Enemy, and how the book came about.
Dawn: I have a history of a minor in Women’s Studies and have read a number of books by men for men. In my first marriage, I watched with a sense of helplessness as my power of influence slipped away. I recognized how often our problems seemed to stem from mistaken gender beliefs. We were two halves trying to make a whole. However, as I worked with a wonderful therapist to develop my wholeness through assertiveness skills, acceptance, and being more true to myself, my husband and I grew further apart. That marriage ended and after being a single mother for several years I met and married Mark James. Mark saw what I saw in the damaging effects of divisive and excessive gender expectations. So together we gave birth to this book: Married To The Enemy. Where the world has opened up more for women, we think the man’s world has not changed much since the 50’s. As just one example; How does a boy connect to all of his humanity and grow up to value women if the still popular put-down is his being called “a girl?” Mark does an excellent job in just writing about his struggle with growing up in the “male” world.

Mickey: Besides being a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, you are also a National Certified Counselor and an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy informed therapist. How did you get into therapy, and has this always been what you wanted to do?
Dawn: During my first marriage, my husband went back to school to become a doctor while I played the supportive and dutiful wife role. At that time, I had a Michigan teacher’s license that I let lapse in the midst of supporting my husband’s career. My traits of compassion, empathy, and analytical ability went well with what makes for a good counselor and I thought that would build well upon my bachelor’s degree of special education of the emotionally impaired. When I graduated high school in the 70’s I thought I wanted to be an architect, but I knew I did not have the “grit” at that time to handle going into a traditionally male field. At the time of the divorce I had been a home manager, doing odd jobs to help make ends meet. So the courts saw me as needing to be “rehabilitated,” thus I received a couple years of alimony to obtain my Master’s of Science degree in Counseling.

Mickey: In addition to working with adults, you've also worked with children, including the special education level. How do the two differ? How do you approach each age group?
Dawn: I find children much more difficult to work with because they do not have as much control over their lives as adults and that can be heart wrenching at times. My approach with any age group is to hold my client in high regard. Adults are often coming in because of pain stemming from their childhood. They may be using a coping mechanism that worked in childhood that is not effective in their adult relationships. They may be functioning under some false belief systems. Through Acceptance and Commitment Therapy we work toward creating psychological flexibility so that they can become more effective in creating what they want in their lives today and in the long-term.

Mickey: If you could only practice therapy with one group of people, who would it be?
Dawn: I really enjoy working with couples.

Mickey: How did you balance your practice with writing the book?
Dawn: Writing the book was often enjoyable for Mark and me. We would go away on weekends to the state park inns or camp out at our local coffee shop or sit on our back deck after work hours.

Mickey: I'm a huge audio book fan. Any plans for one? Who would be your dream narrator for your book?
Dawn: No plans right now. Curt Russell and Goldie Hawn have certainly done well in making a long run of their relationship and that has been without a marriage contract. Perhaps, they would be interested in narrating?

Mickey: I am really looking forward to gaining some advice from your book. Any plans for future writing endeavors?
Dawn: At some point I hope to pursue a book titled: Nature’s Simple Rules to Relationships. This would be a fun older teen/adult picture book on some basic guidelines for creating the relationship that will help them meet their goal of longevity.

Mickey: Have you ever met a problem/situation that you couldn't handle? What do you do when you're stuck?
Dawn: We cannot control other people, only ourselves, so once I have done what I can, I like to simply hand it over to whatever that higher power is out there.

Mickey: Any thoughts of writing a fiction novel?
Dawn: Not right now.

Mickey: Thanks so much for being on the blog today! Any parting thoughts?
Dawn: You’re welcome. Just remember to be mindful of your choices. Those choices are creating a life that you will someday be looking back upon and our lives do end up being a sum of our choices. Make conscious choices. If you have a love partner in your life today, practice random acts of kindness and see them with grace.

Find Dawn:
| goodreads | linked in


  1. I was glad to stumble across this interview. She seems like a very happy person. I am reading her book; it is very helpful and full of great insights.
    -Chadwick Strum

  2. Great interview. Dawn seems very genuine and authentic in talking about what she's learned from her own experiences and how she uses this to work with current couples. Looking forward to reading the book and seeing how I can utilize it in my own practice with adults/couples.

    -Cynthia, LCSW

  3. yeah, too bad she's divorced.

  4. divorced for the 3rd time.

    1. A year later and I'm just now seeing your comment. It's too bad you feel a need to hide behind "anonymous." Actually, married and divorced 2 times. That's the power of choice. No man or woman needs to stay in a relationship where they experience mistreatment. Of course, what accounts for mistreatment can be subjective and different people will have different tolerance levels. With so few working relationships today I think partnership skills should be taught in our high schools. I wish you well. Dawn


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