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A Healthy Relationship Depends on Your Patterns of Love


Do you make the same mistakes in love over and over again? For example, do you always seem to pick the wrong partner or always experience the same negative romantic outcome? If so, you need to understand your developmental history of love and break the pattern, according to Dr. Mark Beitel, a licensed clinical psychologist and psychotherapist at Greenwich Hospital’s Center for Integrative Medicine in Cos Cob, CT.


“Certain conditions for loving, and being loved, are created and then maintained across a person’s lifespan,” explains Beitel. “Negative life experiences can damage the developing capacity for love. People get stuck because the conditions that they have set up for loving tend to operate just outside of awareness.”


We all yearn for the kind of love that works. In fact, the very experience of loving is good for your health. Beitel explains that brain chemicals like oxytocin and endorphins are released during the experience of love. These substances are associated with pleasure and well-being.


There are simple ways to put yourself on the path for a healthy happy love life. It starts by taking better care of yourself. “It is much easier to develop the capacity to love yourself and others when your biology is in balance,” says Beitel, who works with patients on their mental health while encouraging them to seek help with nutrition and exercise as well.


One way to iron out the developmental wrinkles in the capacity for love is simply to be more present, or mindful, in everyday life. “The practice of mindfulness can also help us to see our loved ones as they are rather than as we want them to be. Negative expectations run outside of awareness, so increasing mindfulness gives them less room to operate. Seeing others clearly reduces the confusion, biases, and inappropriate expectations that prevent us from connecting authentically,” says Beitel. Psychotherapy is designed to help a person become aware of repeating negative expectations about love and to correct them so that a more enjoyable love life can be pursued.


Source:  http://newsblaze.com/story/2010021206400600003.wi/topstory.html


12 Ways to Mend a Broken Heart

 


By Therese J. Borchard

Bess Myerson once wrote that “to fall in love is awfully simple, but to fall out of love is simply awful,” especially if you are the one who wanted the relationship to last. But to stop loving isn’t an option. Author Henri Nouwen writes, “When those you love deeply reject you, leave you, or die, your heart will be broken. But that should not hold you back from loving deeply. The pain that comes from deep love makes your love ever more fruitful.” But how do we get beyond the pain? Here are 12 techniques I’ve gathered from experts and from conversations with friends on how they patched up their hearts and tried, ever so gradually, to move on.


1. Go through it, not around it.


I realize the most difficult task for a person with a broken heart is to stand still and feel the crack. But that is exactly what she must do. Because no shortcut is without its share of obstructions. Here’s a simple fact: You have to grieve in order to move on. During the 18 months of my severe depression, my therapist repeated almost every visit: “Go through it. Not around it.” Because if I went around some of the issues that were tearing me apart inside, then I would bump into them somewhere down the line, just like being caught in the center of a traffic circle. By going through the intense pain, I eventually surfaced as a stronger person ready to tackle problems head on. Soon the pain lost its stronghold over me.


2. Stand on your own.


One of the most liberating thoughts I repeat to myself when I’m immersed in grief and sadness is this: I don’t need anyone or anything to make me happy. That job is all my own, with a little help from God. When I’m experiencing the intense pangs of grief, it is so difficult to trust that I can be whole without that person in my life. But I have learned over and over again that I can. I really can. It is my job to fill the emptiness, and I can do it … creatively, and with the help of my higher power.


3. Detach.


Attempting to fill the void yourself–without rushing to a new relationship or trying desperately to win your lover back–is essentially what detaching is all about. The Buddha taught that attachment that leads to suffering. So the most direct path to happiness and peace is detachment. In his book, Eastern Wisdom for Western Minds, Victor M. Parachin tells a wonderful story about an old gardener who sought advice from a monk. Writes Parachin:


“Great Monk, let me ask you: How can I attain liberation?” The Great Monk replied: “Who tied you up?” This old gardener answered: “Nobody tied me up.” The Great Monk said: “Then why do you seek liberation?”


4. List your strengths.


As I wrote in my “12 Ways to Keep Going” post, a technique that helps me when I feel raw and defeated to try anymore is to list my strengths. I say to myself, “Self, you have been sober for 20 years!! Weaklings can’t pull off that! And here you are, alive, after those 18 months of intense suicidal thoughts. Plus you haven’t smoked a cigarette since that funeral back in December of last year!” I say all of that while listening to the Rocky soundtrack, and by the last line, I’m ready to tackle my next challenge: move on from this sadness and try to be a productive individual in this world. If you can’t list your strengths, start a self-esteem file. Click here to learn how you build one.


5. Allow some fantasizing.


Grief wouldn’t be the natural process that it should be without some yearning for the person you just lost. Dr. Christine Whelan, who writes the “Pure Sex, Pure Column” on BustedHalo.com, explains the logic of allowing a bit of fantasy. She writes:


If you are trying to banish a sexual fantasy from your head, telling yourself “I’m not going to fantasize about her” or “I won’t think about what it would be like to be intimate with him” might make it worse: In a famous psychological study from the 1980s, a group of subjects were told to think about anything but whatever they did, they were not supposed to think about a white bear. Guess what they all thought about?


6. Help someone else.


When I’m in pain, the only guaranteed antidote to my suffering is to box up all of my feelings, sort them, and then try to find a use for them. That’s why writing Beyond Blue contributes a big chunk to my recovery, why moderating Group Beyond Blue has me excited to wake up every day. When you turn your attention to another person–especially someone who is struggling with the same kind of pain–you forget about yourself for a split moment. And let’s face it, that, on some days, feels like a miracle.


7. Laugh. And cry.


Laughter heals on many levels as I explain in my “9 Ways Humor Heals” post, and so does crying. You think it’s just a coincidence that you always feel better after a good cry? Nope, there are many physiological reasons that contribute to the healing power of tears. Some of them have been documented by biochemist William Frey who has spent 15 years as head of a research team studying tears. Among their findings is that emotional tears (as compared to tears of irritation, like when you cut an onion) contain toxic biochemical byproducts, so that weeping removes these toxic substances and relieves emotional stress. So go grab a box of Kleenex and cry your afternoon away.


8. Make a good and bad list.


You need to know which activities will make you feel good, and which ones will make you want to toilet paper your ex-lover’s home (or apartment). You won’t really know which activity belongs on which list until you start trying things, but I suspect that things like checking out his wall on Facebook and seeing that he has just posted a photo of his gorgeous new girlfriend is not going to make you feel good, so put that on the “don’t attempt” list, along with e-mails and phone calls to his buddies fishing for information about him. On the “feels peachy” list might be found such ventures as: deleting all of his e-mails and voicemails, pawning off the jewelry he gave you (using the cash for a much-needed massage?), laughing over coffee with a new friend who doesn’t know him from Adam (to ensure his name won’t come up).


9. Work it out.


Working out your grief quite literally–by running, swimming, walking, or kick-boxing–is going to give you immediate relief. On a physiological level–because exercise increases the activity of serotonin and/or norepinehrine and stimulates brain chemicals that foster growth of nerve cells–but also on an emotional level, because you are taking charge and becoming the master of your mind and body. Plus you can visualize the fellow who is responsible for your pain and you can kick him in the face. Now doesn’t that feel good?


10. Create a new world.


This is especially important if your world has collided with his, meaning that mutual friends who have seen him in the last week feel the need to tell you about it. Create your own safe world–full of new friends who wouldn’t recognize him in a crowd and don’t know how to spell his name–where he is not allowed to drop by for a figurative or literal surprise visit. Take this opportunity to try something new–scuba diving lessons, an art class, a book club, a blog–so to program your mind and body to expect a fresh beginning … without him.


11. Find hope.


There’s a powerful quote in the movie The Tale of Despereaux that I’ve been thinking about ever since I heard it: “There is one emotion that is stronger than fear, and that is forgiveness.” I suppose that’s why, at my father’s deathbed, the moment of reconciliation between us made me less scared to lose him. But forgiveness requires hope: believing that a better place exists, that the aching emptiness experienced in your every activity won’t be with you forever, that one day you’ll be excited to make coffee in the morning or go to a movie with friends. Hope is believing that the sadness can evaporate, that if you try like hell to move on with your life, your smile won’t always be forced. Therefore in order to forgive and to move past fear, you need to find hope.


12. Love deeply. Again and again.


Once our hearts are bruised and burned from a relationship that ended, we have two options: we can close off pieces of our heart so that one day no one will be able to get inside. Or we can love again. Deeply, just as intensely as we did before. Henri Nouwen urges to love again because the heart only expands with the love we are able to pour forth. He writes:


The more you have loved and have allowed yourself to suffer because of your love, the more you will be able to let your heart grow wider and deeper. When your love is truly giving and receiving, those whom you love will not leave your heart even when they depart from you. The pain of rejection, absence, and death can become fruitful. Yes, as you love deeply the ground of your heart will be broken more and more, but you will rejoice in the abundance of the fruit it will bear.


http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/02/14/12-ways-to-mend-a-broken-heart/


The Courage to Commit


Fear of commitment is rooted in the demand for perfection

by Elliot D. Cohen, PhD

Fear of commitment is rooted in the demand for perfection in an imperfect universe.  The future is uncertain; things do not always happen as you wish; there are some things that are not in your control; and you cannot know all.  This is the human condition.

“If I commit to him/her, then I might miss the opportunity to meet someone better.”  How often have these words been uttered?  These words are the words of fear of commitment, a demand for perfection that one simply cannot have in an uncertain universe.


Plato believed that our souls were once split in half and the quest for finding the right person with whom to spend one’s life was that of (literally) finding “your other half.” In contrast, Jean-Paul Sartre, a French existentialist philosopher, would admonish you that the person you choose as your mate will be the right person because you have chosen this person, not because there is a cosmic truth that says so.


Existentially, truth is where you hang your hat; and that is clearly a lot of responsibility to carry.  You can accept responsibility and live accordingly or you can retreat from it, not act, procrastinate, hold out for ultimate truth, and succeed only in defining yourself as a disappointed dream, hope, wish, or expectation.  The relative truth is that you will find “the one” only by taking the plunge into reality.


Read More …  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/what-would-aristotle-do/201002/the-courage-commit


The Challenge of Mixed or Blended Families


Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Feb 18th 2010


One of the consequences of the high rate of divorce and remarriage is that family structure has changed. People who remarry find themselves blending two sets of families from former marriages. That means that the newly remarried are now both continuing to be the natural parent to their existing children and step parent to the children who come with the second spouse. Sometimes it is only one spouse who brings children into the marriage. Regardless of the particular configuration of children and stepparents, everyone involved has to deal with difficult challenges. Here, at Mental Help.Net, we hear about those challenges when the wife or husband writes to us complaining that their new spouse seems to love their biological children more than their new spouse.


Here is a sample E. Mail recently posted on “Reader Questions,”


“I have been divorced from my daughter’s father for almost 11 years. The man I am now dating is the first real boyfriend I have had since my divorce. He is also divorced and has 3 daughters who live with their mother in another state.


The issue I have is with my 11 year old daughter. She is very jealous of every aspect of my relationship. She wants to know what we are talking about when he and I are having a conversation. She wants to know what he and I are doing when we are out on a date. We spend one night a weekend with her and allow her to invite a friend. We play board games, go bowling, to the movies, sporting events, dinner, all types of things and this was my boyfriend’s idea. He wants things to be easier with her but nothing seems to be working. It’s putting strain on our relationship and I don’t know what to say to her to get her to understand how it makes me feel. I feel very stressed and caught in the middle because I want everyone to be satisfied and happy, including me.”


Mother, boyfriend and daughter are struggling with lots of anxiety over impending changes in the dynamics of the family. The 11 year old daughter, on the threshold of adolescence, may be experiencing fears about losing her mother, knowing how to cope with a stepfather and attempting to interfere with and even destroy the new relationship the mother and boyfriend have in order to maintain the status quo. From the child’s point of view, the status quo feels much safer than the changes represented by the boyfriend.


Read More …  http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=35623&cn=51


Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies:


Flattery can work it’s magic, even when we know it’s insincere. The Boston Globe covers a new study that found that even when we realise the compliments we’re hearing are an attempt to butter us up, they can still have a persuasive effect.


Insincere flattery gets a bad rap. Sure, it sounds cheesy or even awkward. But new research suggests that one’s initial conscious reaction – discounting the flattery as a self-serving ploy – may mask a more durable implicit positive emotional association with the flatterer. People who were given a printed advertisement from a department store that paid compliments to their sense of fashion had higher opinions of the store, but only when they weren’t given much time to think about it, or when they were asked several days later. This effect was boosted after people engaged in self-criticism but was nullified after people engaged in self-affirmation, suggesting that flattery – even the patently insincere type – will be especially effective on folks who are down on their luck.


Sadly, the study itself is locked behind a paywall, but there’s a longer summary of the experiment at the journal website which has a few more details.


Read in Full:  http://www.mindhacks.com/blog/2010/02/tell_me_lies_tell_m.html


Low Sexual Desire Has Emotional Impact


By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on February 19, 2010


A European study finds women with low sexual desire and associated distress experience personal and emotional distress related to the sexual issue.


The DESIRE (Desire and its Effects on female Sexuality Including Relationships) study identified 7,542 women with low sexual desire and associated distress.


Among these women, 5,098 participated and were surveyed on a wide range of attitudes and behaviors relating to their experience of low sexual desire.


The reports of their frequency and level of sexual desire over the last 12 months were significantly correlated with reports of their level of distress about their low sexual desire and with each of these negative emotional responses.


Researchers discovered many women report experiencing negative emotions, such as dissatisfaction with their sex life, guilt about sexual difficulties and distress about their sex life, frequently or always during the previous three months.


The DESIRE study methodology consisted of 65,129 women, ages 18-88 years, from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, participating in a demographically representative research panel. These women completed an initial screening comprised of the first four questions of the Decreased Sexual Desire Screener (DSDS).


The DSDS is a five-question diagnostic tool that assists non-expert clinicians in the clinical diagnosis of generalized, acquired Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), with more than 85 percent accuracy. In total, 7,542 women answered “yes” to all four questions and did not attribute their desire problem to partner sexual issues or physical trauma and 5,098 women further chose to participate in the in-depth survey.


About the HSDD Patient Registry


To understand the natural course of HSDD in women, the New England Research Institutes in Watertown, Mass., is conducting the first-ever registry in female sexual health. The HSDD Registry for Women is a prospective, multicenter, observational study, which will provide data on the natural history and long-term consequences of HSDD.


“The HSDD Registry for Women is the first sexual medicine registry of its kind to investigate the history and clinical course of generalized, acquired Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder in women,” said Ray Rosen, Ph.D., Chief Scientist of the New England Research Institutes.


“With its in-depth analysis of medical co-morbidities, lifestyle factors and long-term outcomes, we expect the HSDD Registry to address a number of knowledge gaps surrounding HSDD in women.”


Nearly one in 10 women report low sexual desire with associated distress, which may be HSDD, an often under-diagnosed condition that is defined as a decrease or lack of sexual desire that causes distress for the patient, may put a strain on relationships with partners, and is not due to the effects of a substance, including medications, or another medical condition.


“Many of the women I see with HSDD experience a high level of guilt and feelings of confusion,” said Sheryl Kingsberg, Ph.D., President of ISSWSH, Chief of Behavioral Medicine at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, and professor in reproductive biology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.


“They also complain about the distance they feel between themselves and their partner. The emotional impact of HSDD is significant, so I am excited by the growing body of research being presented this year as it provides an in-depth look at this under-recognized but distressing condition.”


The study and patient registry are supported by unrestricted grants through Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


About the DSDS


The DSDS diagnostic tool consists of five Yes or No questions:


    • In the past, was your level of sexual desire/interest good and satisfying to you?
    • Has there been a decrease in your level of sexual desire/interest?
    • Are you bothered by your decreased level of sexual desire/interest?
    • Would you like your level of sexual desire/interest to increase? 

     

In a fifth Yes or No question, women are asked to note any factors from the following list they feel may be contributing to a loss of sexual desire or interest.


    • Medications, drugs or alcohol you are currently taking
    • Pregnancy, recent childbirth, menopausal symptoms
    • Other sexual issues you may be having (pain, decreased arousal or orgasm)
    • Your partner’s sexual problems
    • Dissatisfaction with your relationship or partner
    • Stress or fatigue 

     

If a woman answers “Yes” to questions one through four, and “No” to all of the factors in question five, then she may meet the criteria for the diagnosis of generalized, acquired HSDD.


However, following the completion of the DSDS, a clinical assessment and review with the clinician is required to confirm the diagnosis of generalized, acquired HSDD.


Source: Ogilvy Public Relations


Do Wife’s Earnings Create Marital Stress?


By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.


As women embrace professional occupations and become leaders in corporate America, becoming the primary breadwinner may or may not lead to marital strife.


According to two financial therapists, the issue depends largely on expectations.


“If men and women have the expectation that it’s OK for a spouse to earn more, it’s not going to affect their relationship like it would if they go into the marriage with the expectation that the husband will have the job that pays more,” said Kristy Archuleta.


She co-directs Kansas State University’s Financial Therapy Clinic, which blends financial counseling with marriage and family therapy. She works with Sonya Britt, a financial therapist at the clinic.


Archuleta said she doesn’t see wives earning more money as a big problem among couples she works with. But it may make a difference how wives end up with greater earning power.


If it’s always been that way or if it’s a temporary solution to make ends meet, she said those expectations may temper any potential problems. Not so much if it’s an unexpected and unwanted shifting of roles.


A study released in January by the Pew Research Center showed that 22 percent of men made less money than their wives in 2007 — a shift from 1970 when it was just 4 percent of husbands. The Pew researchers have said that the recession following the 2007 study will make that percentage increase.


If couples see the wife’s larger salary as a potential minefield, Archuleta and Britt said husbands and wives should address any problems from the start.


“If things aren’t laid out in the open, it creates a lot of resentment and distrust, and you start treating the other person with disrespect,” Archuleta said.


She and Britt said some topics couples should discuss include:


  • *What are the expectations for earning power? If the wife earning more than the husband is a short-term solution to make ends meet, will it make a difference if that pattern continues? Archuleta said research shows that men more than women link their self-worth with how much money they make.
“Men sometimes can think it’s no big deal if their wife earns more than they do, but in reality it might be causing some underlying problems,” Archuleta said.

  • *Will decisions be made differently? If the wife is earning more money, should she have more say in how money is spent, saved and invested? “Often times couples think that if they both contribute, they both should make decisions about finances,” Archuleta said. “If the woman starts making as much money and she thinks she should be getting a little more involved, it makes it difficult if she’s still being somewhat shut out.”
  • *Will money be managed differently? Britt said couples need to decide what to do with a shift in earnings, such as whether the husband is now going to get an allowance or whether accounts will be separate or joint.
  • *What type of message will be sent to others? If a couple has children, this includes the message that they’ll get about their parents. “If you’re OK with it, you’re probably not going to care what other people think, and you’ll portray to your children that it’s OK that mommy makes more money than daddy,” Archuleta said. “There’s nothing wrong with traditional views, but it makes it harder because then you are more concerned with what other people think. As parents, you might be badmouthing mom without realizing it by saying something like ‘I have to stay here and cook dinner, because mom’s not home again tonight.”
  • *Will household roles change? If the wife is earning more money because she’s spending more time at work, a couple needs to decide whether the husband will step in with household and child care duties. If mom’s bigger salary comes with business travel, for example, is dad comfortable taking on a role as primary caregiver? “A larger burden may be put on the husband than was there before, and he may or may not be comfortable doing that,” Archuleta said. “Talking about your role expectations is important, because it does lead into all areas of your marriage.”
  • *Ultimately, what’s financially best? “It doesn’t really make sense for the wife to take off an afternoon of work for a sick child if she’s the one making more money,” Britt said. “It makes financially better sense for the husband to take off, even if that’s not the way it’s been in the past.”

Source: Kansas State University


http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/02/15/do-wifes-earnings-create-marital-stress/11453.html


Reviving Your Marriage


By Maud Purcell, LCSW, CEAP

Is your marriage alive and well, or is it time to dial 911? Chances are the health of your relationship falls somewhere in the middle — slightly out of shape and tired. Unfortunately most of us tend to take the health of a marriage for granted. And we don’t realize how important a happy, healthy relationship is until it’s time for marital CPR.


Maintaining personal health requires work — exercise, good nutrition, rest and regular checkups. No one teaches us that the same kind of maintenance is also necessary in order to keep a marriage alive. Love between a parent and child is unconditional. Love between a husband and wife is not. As divorce statistics would indicate, an untended marriage falls apart too easily. The good news is that there are ways to make a marriage survive, and better yet, thrive.


Your Marital Diagnosis


There are warning signs or “symptoms” when your marriage is “under the weather.” Here are some key symptoms:


  • *feelings of chronic resentment toward your spouse
  • *lack of laughter between the two of you
  • *desire to spend free time with someone other than your mate
  • *too much time spent playing the “blame game”
  • *conversations between you are laced with bitterness and sarcasm

Relationship Revival Program


Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? If so, it’s time to revive your marriage by following this program.


  • *Make the marriage your priority, not an afterthought. Set aside regular time to be alone with your partner. If kids are in the picture, hunt for a “network” of trusted babysitters. If money is a concern, compare the cost of a night out with that of marital therapy or a divorce attorney! Get the drift? Start doing some of the things that used to bring you joy, and helped you to feel more connected. There are plenty of activities that you can do for free — a long walk, star gazing or window-shopping are all simple pleasures that can bring you closer together.
  • *Resuscitate your romance. Remember how the sparks flew when you first met? It’s probably not too late to rekindle the embers. Surprise your spouse with a homemade Valentine (any day of the year!) and a bottle of champagne. Light up the bedroom with candles, or put a love note in his briefcase. Last but not least, initiate lovemaking. Passion is the glue in a marriage — it helps you feel close to your mate, and makes getting through rough times a lot easier.
  • *Accept what you can’t change. Much marital strife is caused by the belief that you cannot be happy in your marriage as long as you must live with your partner’s bad habits or imperfections. Have you noticed that no matter how much you gripe and moan, these things don’t change? Rather than trying to control what you can’t, work around his quirks and focus on the positive. We all respond much better to praise than to criticism. And here’s the paradox: Sometimes when we stop fighting the way things are, they actually do change. No guarantees, but it’s worth a try.
  • *Be attractive, inside and out. “Married” doesn’t have to mean complacent. Continue to learn and experience new things, and share these with your partner. Eat right, exercise, rest and make the most of your appearance. Doing these things is taking good care of yourself, but it’s also a way of showing your mate that you want to be your best and share yourself with him.
  • *Improve communication and negotiation skills. Being a good listener is key to healthy communication. Even if you don’t agree with what he’s had to say, empathize with his position. This will open the door to more effective conflict resolution. If you must be critical, convert criticism into a request for behavioral change by stating it positively. Most important, apologize when you are wrong.

There are no marriages made in heaven. But by devoting time and energy to reviving your marriage, you’ll once again feel your relationship pulse beating strong and steady.




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