5 Sets of Marriage Tips from Around The Web

Hey, don’t just take my word for it! Let’s see what my colleagues around the web are advising you on the topic “marriage tips.”     1. Marriage Max http://www.marriagemax.com/tip.asp Mort Fertel is not a marriage counselor — and he’s proud of it. He considers himself an alternative because he doesn’t care for the advice that counselors give to unhappy individuals that encourages the breakup of their marriage. I don’t blame him. His point is right on target. What’s more, his advice is sound. His tips change from time to time so you may not find the same one that I found. But the one I found asks the question: If you’re sick and tired of your spouse’s cheating, drinking, neglect, using drugs, or some other terrible habit, should you declare an ultimatum? Fertel says “No” because it won’t help. It will just cause you to feel a momentary feeling of power. What you have not done is give your spouse a reason to care about your ultimatum. What he (or she) will care about, however, is if you are connected to him. This presents its own problem because if he is disconnected from you, chances are you don’t have better tools than he does to be connected. You both found someone like yourselves –who is disconnected. Just to put in my own 2 cents, the above scenario is certainly possible. Others are also possible. It can be that in the beginning, one person is a connector and is attracted to another because she (let’s say) admires that ability in the other to be able to be alone. The...

Overcoming “Mental Illness”

Overcoming mental illness may be started best by no longer thinking of it as “mental illness.” Or “disease,” or a “sickness.” In the world of marriage and parenting, it’s important to think how you will deal with certain problems. If your spouse or child seems to “have” a mental illness, then please read on. So why do I say that you shouldn’t think of it as mental illness, disease, or sickness? There are three reasons why I’m putting it in these terms. The Concept is Made Up; They Only Describe; They Can’t Ascribe If we look back in history, people who heard voices were thought of as prophets at one time. In a different era, they were considered possessed by the devil. At present, if you compare the European diagnostic code with ours, you learn that the Europeans have fewer categories and ever since World War II are really, really hesitant to put labels on people. In the psychology world today, diagnostics are considered a “construct.” This means that we made up the idea because it seems useful to have it. We constructed it. Unfortunately, putting people into the “correct” diagnostic category is impossible because there is no objective measure of what the correct category would be. Yes, there are many rules as to what sorts of behaviors we are looking for but people don’t actually fall within the neat rules that the panel that composes the series of books on it have arbitrarily created. Unlike diagnosing a broken arm (which takes place with the help of an X-ray) or whether a person hit a D# (which takes place...

Book Review: You Can Feel Good Again (For Depression)

A fellow therapist recommended Richard Carlson’s book, You Can Feel Good Again: Commonsense Strategies For Releasing Unhappiness and Changing Your Life. I had asked her because she is a sex therapist and a couple I was seeing had a particular sexual issue. They did not want to change therapists, so I searched out the best possible advice that I was aware of. Instead of some complicated, family-of-origin work, which is what I expected, she recommended a book which falls into the Cognitive Behavioral approach. Now, here is the interesting part, before I get into the details of this book. The book is really targeted at combating depression and I told a client to read it whose depression didn’t seem to want to leave her. She read it and perkily texted me that she was doing fine and happy. So, whatever negatives I will say about this book — and there was really only one — I recommend it. I recommend it for –obsessive thoughts –depression –self-punishing thoughts –low self-esteem Highlights The author’s premise is that we control our thoughts. Thus, any negative thoughts we have are of our own invention and ought to have zero power over us. That makes complete sense to me and is in line with my work (which says that feelings are within our control because they begin with thoughts. On the other hand one of his points is that if you happen to be depressed, don’t think because that will make things worse. A wonderful point is that we are all capable of healthy thinking. In fact, before being messed up by adults, children...

How Anxiety Affects Marriage

Do you think anxiety gets in your way? Research finds that you are right. Anxiety — paradoxically — leads people to marry more readily than those without it, and (unfortunately) to divorce more readily, too, because of greater marital dissatisfaction. What’s more, anxiety is self-sustaining: It creates just enough havoc in a marriage to increase the dissatisfaction in that marriage — which, in turn, leads to greater anxiety. Murray Bowen (deceased) explained why all this happens and his explanation takes something that seems counter-intuitive and makes complete sense out of it. The story begins, of course, in childhood. When parents rob their children of trust in them — emotional trust — it makes children anxious. And they grow up to be anxious adults. How would this happen? Surely parents love their children and would never want to take away their trust. But they can do it just the same. Here are some ways: Blame, criticize, chastise frequently When a child complains, hit their vulnerabilities. An example of this is the following kind of conversation: Child: “I really wanted to go to X. (whining) Why didn’t [friend] invite me?” Parent: “Do you think he would invite you after you did A,B,C?” In other words, instead of soothing the child or having a constructive conversation, the parent pours salt into the child’s wounds, reminding him of his gaffs. This can be particularly painful even if the mistakes the child made were not so terrible. The point here is not to examine why the parent acts this way. It happens all the time; it’s so common that I am amazed and pleased...

What To Do With Your Child’s Anger

I was rereading a therapy magazine from 1999 — so the problems were full-blown even back then– and it related the following: In a difference of opinion between a child and her mother who wanted the TV shut off, as the mother’s demand became stronger, the child finally used a swear word on her mother, something like, “F-you, mommy.” That child was eight years old. And this is not an inner-city family. It is a socio-economically privileged family whose mother spends time toting her daughter to after-school activities and the like. This young girl also does well in school and is liked by her peers. What’s going on? Why the language? The article was filled with similar stories including those of kids who hit and kicked their parents when they didn’t get their way and another young child who didn’t like anticipating the arrival of a new baby and smashed a baseball bat into her mother’s belly. The author, Ron Taffel, was compelled to interview parents to try to find out what was missing in their approach. It turns out that parents — who may have suffered harsh discipline themselves growing up — are afraid to do the same to their children. So they do nothing. Maybe their child needs to “get out” their anger, they’re thinking. If so, then letting them vent should be a good thing. No, it isn’t good. First, because the venting never ends. But this is only the beginning of the problem. What Taffel found is that these same parents who are afraid to injure their children by punishing them also don’t like their...

How To Block People Who Argue — And Get What You Want

   Why is it that people insist on trying to win arguments by shooting themselves in the foot? Adam: “I did NOT say that I would go to your mother’s for dinner.” Sally: “Yes you did. And I don’t appreciate your letting me down.” “And you never let ME down?” Do you see where this is going? No where. And why? – Because when you try to win, it means someone else loses. Which means they will fight to the death (metaphorically speaking) to not lose. Which means they have to win. See? But…… If what you want for a result is to get whatever it was you wanted to get, there’s a much better way: Just say what you want. Plain English (or whatever language you speak in). Oh, and add in one really smart — and nice — thing. Let the person you are arguing with know that you heard them. Here’s why: I would venture to bet — and I am not alone on this (I’ll be doing a book review in a couple months on a book written by Harvard Business School people who say the same thing) — the reason people argue so much is because they don’t feel heard. Think about it. Think about all the arguments you’ve been in. And all the times you kept going round and round. You felt like you weren’t getting your point across. Think about the times you did not want to argue but the person you were arguing with would not let go. Now, remember back to those moments. Did you ever once let him or...

News: Adolescent Depression, Insomnia, Benefits of Anxiety, and more…

Here’s a roundup of news in the areas of mental health and marriage that struck me this month. 1. Adolescent Mental Health When Father Leaves Researchers following kids who were about 12 when their fathers left the family found that these children, five years later found that at first the children suffered from depression and anxiety. By nine months later, the depression lifted but not the stress. Interestingly, the teens also worried about their mothers even though they were still living with them. There were various theories floated as to why these particular feelings were taking hold of the children at these points in time. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/304176.php 2. How Loss of Sleep Disturbs Our Ability to Regulate Our Emotions.   If you have noticed yourself over-reacting when you haven’t had enough sleep, it’s not just “your emotions”; there’s a biochemical reason for that and researchers have pinned it down. The study had people take tests first after a good night’s sleep and second, after deprivation. The fascinating finding was that sleep deprivation caused people to perceive emotionally neutral images in a negative way. In another test, subjects were distracted by both neutral and negative images when they lost a night’s sleep but people with a good night’s sleep were only distracted by negative images. The lead researcher stated that poor sleep: “can lead to biased cognitive processing and poor judgment as well as anxiety.” http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/303921.php 3. How to Improve Mental Health in 2016 The author gathered information from a number of studies and found the following surprising suggestions: a. The Mediterranean Diet improves a sense of well-being and improves cognitive...
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