Blog \ Monthly Archives: November 2009

Eye of the Tiger – Was Tiger Woods Assaulted?

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The world is waiting to find out if Tiger’s woods eye and head injury sustained in the wee hours of Friday morning was a result of a car accident (official story) or the result of his postpartum wife’s handy work with a golf club. While police in Jupiter Florida attempt to obtain a search warrant, the world is speculating. While you’re speculating here are a few facts:7.6 per cent of men are assaulted each year by a spouse or domestic partner and 4% of men are killed. This pales in comparison to the 25% of women who are attacked by a lover and the fact that fully 33% of all female murder victims die at the hands of the man they love. Yikes. It is a fine line between love and hate.

As for Tiger’s lovely wife, Elin Nordegren, the 29 year-old Swedish model turned famous wife and mother, it must be pointed out that she had two children in less than two years and the hormonal changes that happen to a postpartum woman can contribute to personality change. Twenty-per-cent of American women suffer from postpartum depression and this disorder can be long term for some. It’s important to remember that depression isn’t always symptomized by tearfulness and low energy. Wild anger can also be exhibited.

As important a clue as postpartum depression is, so is the identity crisis that many women feel as they transition into motherhood. I call it the babe to baby-mama drama. This crisis can be especially dramatic for beautiful women. We live in a culture that does not support motherhood (C’mon a six-week maternity leave?) and there is much pressure on women to get back to a Victoria’s Secret body and a prized paycheck at the office. Elin’s pressure would be greater than most women because her entire identity thus far has been related to youth, good looks, and her ability to keep the attention of a famous athlete husband. Imagine her feelings when she reads a report in a tabloid that Tiger has a mistress!

Finally, let’s look at physical evidence. According to reports, both passenger side windows were shattered by the wife-wielding-golf-club. If she was simply attempting to unlock the door, wouldn’t only one window be sufficient?

No matter what the outcome, it is clear that this family is in crisis and needs, more than anything, support, intervention, and therapy. Where’s grandma is all this?

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Kids can’t stand your boyfriend?

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“I hate him!”
Kids can’t stand your boyfriend? Relationship expert Dr. Wendy Walsh suggests some simple ground rules to keep everyone happy
So, you’ve finally found Mr. Right. He’s romantic, respectful, and even remembers to put the seat down—but there’s one problem. Your children call him Mr. Noway-
no-how. If your little angels are suddenly acting like little devils around your new
man, the first step is to find out why. Could he really be as awful as they say? Listen to your child; you might be surprised by a kid’s perspective. Once, when I pressed my 5-year-old daughter on why she didn’t like my new boyfriend, she very seriously declared that his chin was too big. She was right. This very tall man had never gone
down to her level for her to even see that he had a pleasing face above his imposing jaw line. Luckily that was an easy fix. I simply asked him to sit down more and engage my little one at her eye level. And he did.

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FOR SINGLES: It’s Complicated. The Shape of Relationships

 

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Not so long ago there were two groups of people: single people who wanted to find the right mate and married people who may or may not have been working on their relationship. Today, virtually every American, no matter their age is in one of three relationship stages:
1. finding and building a relationship, 2. maintaining a relationship, or 3. destroying one. Look at these stats:
• 50% of first marriages divorce
• Up to 80% of second marriages divorce
• Sexual taboos have all but disappeared
• 40% of American babies are born out of wedlock
• More women than men are in the workforce
• Less than 30% of children have one stay-at-home parent
• Hooking up is replacing dating
• It is estimated that instead of til-death-do-us-part, we’ll have three long-term relationships in our lives
Today there is a shopping mall of relationship choices. Some couples marry. Some live together. Some do neither and still maintain committed relationships. Others live without any kind of commitments yet children pop out of these unions. It is a relationship revolution where rules have yet to be established. It is a place where sexting, hooking up, and expensive white weddings walk side by side. It is a place where divorce has become a rite of passage, where cougar women enjoy their sexual freedoms, divorced men scramble to figure out what went wrong and young adults try to make sense of their parent’s relationship model. The relationship revolution is affecting everyone.

There are no rules anymore in courting and mating. When a high-school girl has a “friend with benefits” and believes oral sex isn’t sex, when a college student brings a Facebook hookup to her grandmother’s birthday, and when more than half of all American babies are born out of wed-lock, clearly, Dorothy, we are not in Kansas anymore.

No longer til-death-do-us-part, it is estimated that most people have at least three long-term relationships in their lifespan. Thus the shape of the family has changed. Families are married, unmarried, separated, divorced, blended, and gender roles are fluid. The lack of rules means that romance, marriage and family are a whole new ball game.

And single life is no longer a short rite of passage; it’s an important consumer demographic. For the first time in history, the majority of adult Americans are now unmarried. There’s even a magazine devoted to the lifestyles of those who have made a commitment to be single. It includes ads for commitment rings to purchase for oneself.
But has love changed? In some ways it has. Once a home for the heart, relationships have become a mess of mistrust. A holding tank for insecurity. A place where people tally up each side of contributions and ask too often, “What has he done for me lately?” Too often people wonder what their relationship is doing for them, rather than what they themselves have done for their relationship.

So what’s the answer to this complicated landscape. I think the winners of this paradigm shift will be the people who acquire the sharpest emotional intimacy skills. Like emotional intelligence was in the 1990′s, emotional intimacy (i.e. using empathy, compassion, and honesty to navigate conflict) is the hot skill for the survival of our species. Statistically speaking, children of a long-term committed relationship do better on all levels. The winners of the no-rules relationship revolution will be the people who make their own rules and their own game — where the champion is the relationship itself.

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What Are You Addicted to?

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Everyone is addicted to something. For me, it’s coffee in the morning and a glass of red wine with dinner, and my brain has now become accustomed to those two small (but crucial) brain chemical alterations — one achieved through caffeine use, the other through a safe amount of alcohol. As mild as my addictions are, the point they illustrate is important. These substances are habitual and affect my mood. Without them, I would not be the same person.

For some other people the pleasure centers in the brain need a whole lot more juice to create good feelings. By the way, all addictions begin as a way to manage or suppress negative feelings. And they do work for awhile. Later on, though, the addiction itself becomes the new problem. And there are so many things that humans like to become addicted to, from tobacco, drugs and alcohol, to shopping, sex, gambling, or even exercise. All things that give the brain an exciting charge.

This week I shot a television pilot called “Love & Relationships” with three other doctors of psychology. Picture “The View” with four Ph.D.’s. Our celebrity guest list included Mackenzie Phillips and Natalie Cole. Both brave women generously gave of their time to openly talk about pain and addiction as a temporary answer to childhood trauma. Their motivation to share their stories is as noble one as any — to help others see that there is another way out of emotional pain.

The route out of the haze of addictive behavior is one well-known to anyone who has attempted it. And it is not for the faint of heart. Removing the stimulus and all the accessories (including the people, places and thrills that were associated with it) is a start. Then it is a long journey through a twelve-step program to finally begin to feel again. Eventually the veil of false euphoria will be lifted and authentic feelings will bubble up to the surface.

I prefer to leave notes about beating addictions to those who do it all day long and would rather get to the meat of what caused those addictions in the first place, my favorite “F” word — feelings. All addictions begin as a way to self-medicate. Sometimes there is a brain disorder that has gone undiagnosed and its confused host is scrambling to find some balance, using trial an error in home medicine cabinets and at various bars and clubs. At other times, emotional trauma with it’s own invisible bleeding wounds, is the force that causes self-medication.

When people tell me they don’t know why they drink so much, I like to tell them something one psycho-pharmacology professor told me, “Stop drinking and very soon, you’ll know exactly why you drink.”

It’s the painful, shameful, and uncontrollable feelings. It’s the confusion over who did what to whom and what part you played in the trauma. (Note to victims of child sexual abuse — YOU DID NOTHING WRONG!!!!) It’s a heavy weight that sits inside your head and heart that keeps you from finding joy in everyday life. For many, many people emotional pain does not cause obvious disfunction. Sweet damaged children get educated, hold down good jobs, even sleep-walk though some semblance of a marriage. But there is a background uneasiness in their life that never goes away. Never becomes clear, pure, happiness. Thus, the urge to grasp onto something to take this pain away.

This is the day I encourage you to face the feelings behind the addiction. This is the day to reach out to a trained professional to hold your hand through personal growth. This is the day to begin to feel better, so you can feel the true in all your relationships.

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Can Children of Divorced Parents Have Happy Marriages?

10424_148509696833_115788661833_3395422_7643835_aI was reminded about the underpinnings of love today by a comment posted by one of my blog readers. He was wondering if being raised by a single parent and not witnessing the bumps and joys of a marriage, makes relationships tough. The answer is, probably not any tougher than someone who had parents who never divorced but demonstrated far more conflict than cooperation.

We all carry an internalized model for how adult relationships should look and feel. And everyone has a different picture of committed love. Psychologists believe that a kind of blueprint is formed in our minds during our formative years. And that blueprint is a hybrid of three primary relationships.

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