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?

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.

Ten Rules For High Tech Love

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Text, Email, Facebook, & Twitter give the appearance of instant access to your lover. A way to stay connected. But it’s a clever trick. The very things that are designed to keep us closer, if used incorrectly, can brutally tear us apart.

To understand what I mean, let’s think about the things that keep a low-tech relationship sharp — plenty of face-to-face time, long conversations, great sex (with foreplay and after-play), and intimate activities like Sunday morning toe-touching in bed with the New York Times. These practices are the workhorse of intimacy, and they are irreplaceable.

Now let’s consider a modern “high-tech” relationship. A few texts or emails sent during the week to firm up weekend plans. A rendezvous on the weekend that may or may not involve sex (or may involve only sex and no date) and then a Facebook status report on Monday that confirms that your partner is  indeed “in a relationship.” You think I’m exaggerating, don’t you? Not a bit. People write to me all the time with questions about the meaning and protocol of Facebook’s “In a Relationship” descriptor. And during the week, those same people hang onto their electronic device like it is a life-line to love. They reread the texts. They count the texts. They interpret the texts. They depend on a string of impulsive digital communications to determine how secure their relationship is!

 

This is not compassionate love, people. This is a crazy mind game. And it is not communication. It is a poor replacement for healthy communication.

I used the example of text because most people are oblivious to how dangerous a weapon it can be. With text’s brevity and it’s inability to gage the mood of the receiver, those 140 characters can be packed with a power to inflict great pain if taken the wrong way, and read at the wrong time. Of course, email has it’s on list of transgressions. A longer format and a safer place to express feelings, email is still void of eye contact, touch, body language, and voice tone. Could you imagine listening to a recording of your favorite band, with most of the instruments missing? That’s what email is to human communication.

With all that said, in the busy world of convenience and multi-taking, is there, in fact, a way to use technology to grow love verses extinguish it? Well, thank you for asking! Yes, there certainly is. Here’s Dr. Walsh’s list of Do’s and Don’ts for high Tech love:

Ten Rules for Using Technology to Grow Love:

1. Make sure phone calls outnumber emails. Emails are not a substitute for voice-to-voice communication. They are just a side dish.

2. Send texts regularly, every other day or so. If you are dating and growing a relationship, a short, brief text can help you stay in his or her mind. If you are married and/or living together a text every now and then can help keep love alive.

3. Don’t bombard them with texts! (or emails) That’s stalker shit.

4. Only say positive things in a text. 140 characters is no room to criticize, complain, offer advice, or explain your complicated life. Stick to greeting card slogans: “Thinking of You” and “Wish Your Were Here.”

5. Use tech to schedule a more intimate phone call. This is what all boys and girls like to read in a text or email: “Missing You! What time can we chat?”

6. If you are on Facebook and see that your date or mate is also online, it is always polite to send a IM of hello. In the real world if you both turned up at the same party, you wouldn’t ignore them, right?

7. Tech is meant to be a two-way conversation. If anyone you care about sends you an email or a text, and you are swamped, you still must respond! Even the most busy of us can find a second to send at least a happy face. Keep the line of communication going and the next phone call will be a happy one.

8. Even if you have a good excuse, do not flirt with anyone on Facebook if your status reads “In a Relationship.” That’s a bonehead move.

9. Never Tweet or Facebook Post any information about your real-world relationships (Especially the one with your Ex!) To do so would be inviting a forum to enter your tender relationships. Intimacy must grow in privacy.

10. Never break up using technology. Period. If you were brave enough to enter the relationship with your voice (or any other body part) you can find the cojones to break up with grace and class. Use your words, people. And say it out loud.

 

What’s Killing Our Troops? Painful Relationships!

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In light of yesterday’s tragic and horrific shooting at a base in Fort Hood, Texas — at the hand of a military Psychiatrist — mental dis-ease among our troops is a more timely topic than ever. One army chaplain sheds light on combat stress and mental health.

Carlos Ruiz is an army chaplain. He is a youthful forty-year-old whose pumped and imposing physique belies many hours worshiping at the alter we call “the gym.” Before he became a Pentecostal chaplain, he served as a traditional army soldier for eighteen years, and he saw first-hand the horrors of war. I met Carlos yesterday at Miami International Airport when he approached my friend, actor Joey Pantoliano (The Sopranos, Memento) to thank Joey for coming to Iraq on behalf of “No Kidding! Me 2,” an organization founded by Joey to erase the stigma against mental dis-ease and get the world talking about feelings. Joey, who recovered from clinical depression, spouts horrifying statistics about the urgent need for better mental health care for our troops — according to Pantoliano, six suicides occur a day over seas, and 18 a day upon return home. More American service personnel are dying from their own bullet than from enemy fire!

Ruiz has just returned from a one-year tour in Iraq himself, and administered to the spiritual and emotional needs of more than 1100 soldiers. I asked him what was the most common problem presented by our countries bravest. This man did not know who I was. He did not know what I talk about everyday. Yet to a perfect stranger, Captain Carlos Ruiz, army chaplain, did not hesitate as he blurted out the word “relationships.”

I asked him to repeat it as I wasn’t sure I had heard correctly. I mean, these courageous young men and women were witnessing their compadres heads blown off and they seek help for the head trip that their lover back home was putting them through? But indeed it is true. Because, according to this front-line chaplain, relationships provide the emotional support that gets our fighters through the horrors of war. And if relationships are failing, there’s not much else to live for.

 

And, according to Ruiz, technology isn’t helping. Instant text and emails, sent impulsively, void of emotional content are not providing the real emotional fuel that eases minds and fortifies resolve to get the job done and return home. In wars gone by, when war brides waited and worried, and communication was infrequent, one letter loaded with supportive and loving words sustained a soldier for months. Today, there is an additional pressure to maintain life back at home while preserving life in a war zone. Stateside wives, husbands, girlfriends and boyfriends are cutting off relationships at an astonishing rate and doing it via cold bits of digital data, without regard for the power of their act.

The incidence of suicide has gotten so bad, recounts Ruiz, that at a one American base an exasperated commanding officer called all troops into formation to issue an imperative final order, “You may not kill yourselves. And that’s an order!” He didn’t know what else to do.

So I asked the sage chaplain what he prescribes, how he treats this epidemic of relationship distress. He says he tells them to share their feelings more. To explain to their loved ones, within the military limitations of communication, how they are suffering. To bravely ask for help and support instead of pressure from back home. Soldiers who are trained to appear brave often forget to open up in their most intimate relationships. Many are afraid to unduly worry their loved ones, so emails, text, and Facebook postings, log a mondain list of statuses that includes weather reports, food ratings, and recreational army activity. They aren’t sharing their hopes, fears, and traumas for fear that people back home will retreat. So, what’s designed to keep relationships “happy” backfires. Partners back home think that these unnaturally pleasant reports indicate that a soldier’s mistress is the war itself — that the happy soldier does not even want to return to the relationship.

Ruiz learned this lesson himself when he was a young soldier and watched his own marriage crumble while he was in the army. “My previous marriage ended because of absence of communication, among other things that soldiers face today too, like immaturity and a lack of relationship and effective communication training or experience, while trying to perform their warrior duties.”

As a seasoned fighter, Ruiz became a pastor so that he could help young soldiers and ultimately reduce the disturbing suicide rates among the ranks.