Tag Archives: Americas Relationship Expert

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Five Questions to Ask Yourself Before Your Tear Your Family in Half
Couple Back to back with problemsA recent report showed that since the recession, the divorce rate in America is the lowest it’s been in 30 years. Divorce is an expensive business and maintaining two households can get steep. So instead, couples are taking a closer look at their relationship flaws and asking themselves if their marriage is “good enough” to stay. If you are in that situation, here are five questions to ask yourself before you tear your family in half.

1. Am I leaving because of boredom or excitement about meeting someone new?

You should know your notions about marriage are up against a media that spins fantasies about youth, beauty, money and sex. If you believe in the family life created by TV and movies, all partners stay fit, youthful, happy and rich. Unfortunately in real life many partners grow chubby, bald, fall into depressions, and lose money in a recession. Sexual energy gets diverted to nesting energy and the excitement of your youthful love affair morphs into a the drudgery of married life. If you answered “yes” to this question, the answer isn’t a new partner, it’s a new system. And you have the power to charge your “good” relationship.

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FOR SINGLES: Who Gets Laid on a First Date?

man-drinking-beer-picLet me start with a question, if 100 young men, aged 18-25, go out on a first date tonight, how many do you think will get laid? How many will have sex? How many do you actually think will get to hook up? Think about it. Im waiting, you thinking?

Usually when I give this talk to kids at colleges or my salon parties, where I talk about sex and relationships, Im surprised to hear people say numbers like 70 percent, 80 percent! What this shows is that your brain has been manipulated by the media myth of the hook up culture. The truth is this: one study showed that about 99 percent of college students believed that the typical college students hooks up (having sex without commitment) about twice a year. When in fact, this study showed that only 35 percent of students had only one hook up in the past year. So, how many men, aged 18-25, out of 100 are going to get laid on a first date? 20 percent. That means that 80 percent of the women out there are smart enough not to expose their eggs and their blood stream to a stranger, who they wouldnt even give the keys to their apartment to water their plants while they are out of town!

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Think about it. Sex on the first date is loaded with disaster. In fact, with sex within the first 30 days of meeting someone youve got about a 90 percent chance of breaking up within a year. But the real danger here is that the talk of the hook up culture, this mythology, is dangerous to women because it puts pressure on them to adopt a male model of sexuality. In other words, take any sex, all sex, at any costs. By the way, plenty of guys arent happy with that model either.

Did you know that 25 percent of college students are actually virgins? Yeah! And the third reason they site for abstaining is religion. Number one and two are I dont want a pregnancy or relationship to deter my plans for education and a career. Thats the truth! How many get laid on a first date? Well, young men, 2 out of 10. Those are the A gamers, players, who are out to extract sex from a woman and not necessarily build a healthy relationship.

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Is “Un-Divorced” The New Marriage?

I have a guy-friend who has been un-divorced for three years. What that means is that he pays all his wife’s expenses while she lives in another (much smaller) house in the same city. They are both dating other people and speak only about practical household matters. When I ask my friend why he doesn’t get divorced, he shrugs his shoulders and says, his wife hasn’t asked for a divorce. I have a few theories on why this couple doesn’t legally pull the plug on their marriage — divorces are expensive, emotionally gruesome, and staying married is a kind of relationship that fulfills an attachment need for those who are more intimacy avoidant.

Apparently my friend’s situation is not unique. While it is difficult to estimate the numbers, a recent article in the New York Times says that “society is full of whispered scenarios in which spouses live apart.” The article even sites famous gazillionaire, Warren Buffet, who separated from his wife in 1977 and remained married to her until her death on 2004, even though he was living with another woman.

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I would venture to say that there are three categories of people who live in this marital limbo. First, wealthy people who stand to suffer financially if a divorce breaks up assets, like companies and real estate holdings. Second, couples with children who are co-parenting, albeit from separate homes, while health and life insurance policies remain intact, and finally, that large group of wishy-washy, can’t-get-off-the-fence Americans who fear intimacy and deep emotional commitment. After all, staying married to an estranged spouse protects one from having to marry anyone else. For some, staying un-divorced is a perfect purgatory where they can maintain a social illusion of a legal pairing, while sowing their oats elsewhere, yet never having to bring the new crop to fruition. For some of these scenarios, according to The New York Times, pressure from a new paramour is the most common cause, finally, of a delayed divorce.

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Why Men Stray More than Women (And How to Prevent Cheating)

cheater-quiz-mainIt is estimated that 65% of divorces occur ?because of an extra-marital affair. And, despite the sexual revolution and the reduction of the “double standard,” more men still cheat than women. Now science shows us why this gender imbalance might exist.

First, there could be a genetic link. Swedish researchers recently identified an “infidelity gene,” which is present in four of 10 men. This gene can explain why some men are more prone to stormy relationships and bond less to their wives or girlfriends. However, it’s important to remember that biology is not destiny. People born with genetic predispositions to say, heart disease or obesity, make lifestyle adjustments that compensate for the negative gene.

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How Do You Respond To Your Spouse?

Couple Fights in Bed

I like to say that relationships are more often about the elephant in the living room than the tiger in the bedroom. That elephant can be ignored all day long, but he’s still in the living room. And his name is emotional intimacy. But couples indirectly do talk about the elephant all day long in metaphors, gestures, touch and facial expressions — round about ways of asking for love.

Drs. John and Julie Schwartz Gottman, marriage researchers and therapists would probably agree with me. Their ground breaking work on couples communication styles and partner’s bids for connection shows that long term marital happiness can be connected to the husband’s ability to respond to his wife’s bids for closeness. In recording data from an “apartment” laboratory, psychologist Gottman discovered that mundane conversations contain many bids for emotional connection — sometimes as many as 100 bids in ten minutes. “These bids can be a question, a look, an affectionate touch on the arm or any single expression that says, “I want to feel connected to you,” says Gottman. “A response to a bid can be a turn toward, away or against someone’s request for emotional connection.”

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For example, consider a man who comes home from work and his wife says, “How was your day?” There are many ways to pose the question that run the gamut from sarcastic “How was YOUR day (implying that hers was worse) to a sweet, earnest inquiry to know more about a lover. And there are many ways to respond. From a curt “Fine,” to a “Great, honey! How was yours?” Add to that simple exchange, body language, facial expression and physical touch, and you can see that couples, even when they are saying nothing, are often saying a lot.

And an ability to turn toward or away from a request can even predict divorce. Research from Gottman’s apartment lab showed that husbands who eventually were divorced ignored the bids from their wives 82 percent of the time compared to 19 percent for men in stable marriages. Women who later divorced ignored their husband’s bids 50 percent of the time while those who remained married only disregarded 14 percent of their husband’s bids.

In the lab and in the therapy room, Dr. Gottman has discovered that many people are emotionally aware, that they lack emotional literacy in being able to read the emotional message in facial expressions or voice tone. And this handicap leads the other partner to feel rejected. The good news is that Gottman believes these skills can be learned, and even couples on the brink can find ways back into love.

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