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January 2011



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Thoughtful Words Help Couples Stay Fighting Fit

Article Date: 16 Nov 2009 – 0:00 PST

Couples who bring thoughtful words to a fight release lower amounts of stress-related proteins, suggesting that rational communication between partners can ease the impact of marital conflict on the immune system.

“Previous research has shown that couples who are hostile to each other show health impairments and are at greater risk of disease,” said Jennifer Graham, assistant professor of biobehavioral health, Penn State. “We wanted to know if couples who use thoughtfulness and reasoning in the midst of a fight incur potential health benefits.”

Individuals in a stressful situation — as in a troubled relationship — typically have elevated levels of chemicals known as cytokines. These proteins are produced by cells in the immune system and help the body mount an immune response during infection. However, abnormally high levels of these proteins are linked to illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, arthritis and some cancers.

“Typically, if you bring people to a lab and put them under stress, either by engaging them in a conflict or giving them a public speaking task, you can see an increase in proinflammatory cytokines such as Interleukin-6 (Il-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha),” explained Graham.

Read in Full:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/171018.php

Not So Brady: 4 Rules for Staying Together When You Remarry with Kids

By Therese J. Borchard

There’s a story … of a lovely lady … who meets her prince charming and the two of them with their six combined children live happily ever after.


Having been Cindy Brady myself — if you changed my stepsister into a boy and fused my twin sister and I into one girl, then you have it: the perfect Brady family — I know that there are bigger problems in the house than Jan’s inferiority complex to Marsha, Peter’s near death experience with a tarantula in Hawaii, and Greg getting a tad chilled in the meat freezer at Sam’s Butcher Shop when he gets locked in there. (Yes, I watched a lot of TV as a kid.)

The real issues? Peter hates Carol. He totally resents her because ever since she and her big hair came to stay, his dad isn’t around to throw the football or to check over his homework. And Cindy hates Mike. Despises him. Why should he tell her what to do? He’s not her dad. Plus he’s just a dweeb.

It’s worth investigating what makes a real Brady family tick because approximately half of all marriages in the US each year are remarriages for one or both partners and 65 percent of them involve children from a previous relationships. The divorce rate for remarriages with children are 50 percent higher than the marriages with no kids.

How do you make it work?

Here are four tips from Wednesday Martin, Ph.D., author of Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do.

1. Form an airtight, solid relationship and show it to your kids.

Martin suggests doing this in small, simple ways like holding hands or telling them about one of your couple rituals, like where you go for breakfast on Saturday mornings. Having an airtight marriage means acting like a team, especially when it comes to conflicts about discipline and manners.

2. Have some childless time with each other.

Acting as a team and conveying a solid relationship to your kids is easier if you take time to nurture it, says Martin. She urges full-time stepmothers to take a childless vacation each year, to carve out a few days in the year where you can just be a couple. Date nights work, as does making your bedroom a childfree zone.

3. Learn how to fight.

Fighting doesn’t doom a relationship, says Martin. Fighting the wrong way does. She writes, “According to marital experts, it’s not fighting itself or even the frequency of fighting that leads to marital instability. It’s the way people fight. Some fighting styles can destroy a marriage, while others can actually strengthen it.”

Some pointers:

  • *Cushion a hard request between two loving acknowledgements (”I know it’s difficult to deal with the tension between your kids and me. But I would just really like them to say hello to me when I walk in a room; Thank you for being so considerate of my feelings.”);
  • *Put off an argument until a better time;
  • *Know when to walk away from a fight;
  • *Avoid the “four horsemen” of fights: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling;
  • *Break the tension with humor whenever possible.

4. Open up.

Ultimately, what binds a couple together more than anything, argues Martin, is opening up and being honest with each other, to risk rejection and fess up to your partner about why your feelings are hurt and what is so difficult in the union of families. She writes: “For women with stepchildren, that may mean swallowing your pride and making yourself vulnerable just when you feel most misunderstood and betrayed. But it is also likely to open the door to greater emotional closeness and a partnership that beats the odds.”


Men Leave: Separation And Divorce Far More Common When The Wife Is The Patient

By putting this energy into communication, you will make a statement to your partner about your commitment and responsibility. It will demonstrate that the relationship is important to you and that you are willing to involve yourself fully in this act of communication.

Intimate communication may not be worth the effort without love. Love is critical to the relationship. Yet alone it is not enough.

If there is love, however, and if the relationship is important to you then you must focus on communication. Only through good, true communication can you realize the joy of love. Good communication makes love possible, certainly makes it better, and ultimately may be love itself.


Can Thinking Of A Loved One Reduce Your Pain?

Article Date: 16 Nov 2009 – 0:00 PST

“The very thought of you … the mere idea of you” – from the song “The Very Thought of You” by Ray Noble.

Can the mere thought of your loved one reduce your pain?

Yes, according to a new study by UCLA psychologists that underscores the importance of social relationships and staying socially connected.

The study, which asked whether simply looking at a photograph of your significant other can reduce pain, involved 25 women, mostly UCLA students, who had boyfriends with whom they had been in a good relationship for more than six months.

The women received moderately painful heat stimuli to their forearms while they went through a number of different conditions. In one set of conditions, they viewed photographs of their boyfriend, a stranger and a chair.

“When the women were just looking at pictures of their partner, they actually reported less pain to the heat stimuli than when they were looking at pictures of an object or pictures of a stranger,” said study co-author Naomi Eisenberger, assistant professor of psychology and director of UCLA’s Social and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory. “Thus, the mere reminder of one’s partner through a simple photograph was capable of reducing pain.”

Read in Full:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/171022.php

New Therapy Technique Reduces Divorce Rates

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on November 17, 2009

According to a new clinical trial, a therapy technique known as client-directed feedback can greatly increase the odds of a couple remaining together.

Researchers say therapy sessions use four simple questions to generate directed feedback to each party.

The research effort — the largest clinical trial with couples to date — was co-authored by University of Rhode Island Human Development and Family Studies Professor Jacqueline Sparks.

Sparks found couples that had systematic client feedback incorporated into their sessions were 46.2 percent less likely to wind up divorced or separated.

Sparks co-authored the two-year study – conducted at the Vestfold Family Counseling Center in Norway – with Barry Duncan of Heart and Soul of Change Project and Morten Anker of the Family Counseling Office in Vestfold.

The team of U.S. and Norwegian researchers studied 205 randomly selected couples from southern Norway for two years from October 2005 through December 2007.

The couples showed problems typical of struggling relationships, from communication problems to infidelity and physical or psychological issues. Half of the couples in the study used the client feedback system, while the other half did not.

Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/news/2009/11/17/new-therapy-technique-reduces-divorce-rates/9616.html

You again! The role of significant others in our social interactions

The ghosts of past relationships haunt new ones.

Some patterns in our lives tend to repeat. You may meet a new person, and suddenly find that you talk as though you were back in college with them. Or, you may meet a new romantic interest, and you speak to them as if they were an old significant other. Or you my have a boss and you find yourself talking to him as if he was your father.

What is going on?

It is hard to have to treat each new person in your life fresh. After all, there must be some value to all of the experience you have had with other people you have met.

Research by Susan Andersen, Serena Chen, and their colleagues suggests that we do use our experience with important people in our lives to help us figure out how to act with new people that we meet.

The basic idea is simple. If you meet a new person, and he has some of the characteristics of your father, then you will engage in behaviors with that person that are similar to the kinds of interactions you have had with your father. You will also assume (unconsciously) that this person will have other characteristics that your father has. So, your interactions with this new person are being shaped unwittingly by your own relationship with your father.

Read in Full:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/200911/you-again-the-role-significant-others-in-our-social-interactions


Men Often Treat Their Friends Better Than Women Do

Posted on: November 17, 2009 5:28 PM, by Dave Munger

Who’s more “sociable,” men or women? Common sense says it’s women, right? And many research studies back this impression up: Women are more interpersonal, more connected, more interdependent than men. Women are more likely to share intimate information with each other than men. But is that really the whole story?

There is also research suggesting that men have larger social networks than women do, and that male-male friendships last longer than female-female ones.

A team led by Joyce Benenson conducted a set of three studies that may shed some light on the question. In their first study, they identified 30 male and 30 female undergraduates at a small, Northeastern U.S. college. Half of each group was specifically recruited because they said they had some kind of conflict with their roommate. The other half said they were planning on living with their roommate for the rest of the school year. Each student was asked to rate their satisfaction with their roommate on a scale of 1 to 5. A score of 4 or 5 was defined by the researchers as “satisfied.” So were there gender differences? Here are the results:


The male students were significantly more likely to be satisfied with their roommates than female students, whether or not they had a conflict with their roommate. The students also rated their roommates on social interaction, interests, values, and hygiene, and male students gave significantly higher ratings for their roommates than females for every category except hygiene.

In a second study, the researchers surveyed three separate institutions to see how frequently male and female students requested to change roommates. Here are those results:


Whether the students were at a small, medium, or large college or university, females asked for significantly more roommate changes than males.

Read in Full:  http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/2009/11/men_arent_always_less_sociable.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+scienceblogs%2Fcognitivedaily+%28Cognitive+Daily%29

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