Tag Archives: marriage advice

FOR COUPLES: Can Divorce Make You Crazy?

ConflictNo doubt about it, divorce hurts. And news research shows that some people — particularly men ? actually get some real mental health problems following divorce. But not everyone.

A divorce can be an emotional obstacle for all parties involved, but new research shows that a divorce may not doom all to depression. Many cases of depression that occur post-divorce are attributed to the separation of a family or marriage that occurs. Past research by Augustine J. Kposowa, of the University of California, Riverside department of sociology, found that after a divorce, men are at a higher risk of suicide than women. The increased risk of suicide may be due to a lack of social interaction after divorce, or stress leading to mental health issues, such as depression. However, new research brings new light to the situation.

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Researchers from the University of Arizona published a study in the journal Clinical Psychological Science clarifying individuals who face depression, or mental health issues, before a divorce are more likely to struggle after the divorce. Lead investigator on the study, David Sbarra, Ph.D. commented on the correlations of post-divorce depression. He explained that the emotional distress of a divorce can make depression, or depressive symptoms, resurface for individuals who already struggled with this mental health disease, particularly at the clinical level. He also noted that divorce is not random, certain people are more inclined to be divorced, like individuals who are dealing with mental health issues.

In conducting their study, the researchers analyzed information from the national Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) study, a longitudinal study with data collected over multiple assessments. They compared participants who were separated or divorced to those who remained married. This allowed them to see attributes of people who would get divorced based on factors they identified earlier in the study. Investigators also found that 60 percent of adult participants who had a bout with depression before their divorce or separation had a post-divorce episode of depression. ?In contrast, only 10 percent of adults without a history of depression encountered an episode of depression after their divorce or separation. They did not demonstrate the same increased risk of depression.

The study concluded that divorce itself does not make people depressed, most people who suffer from depression prior to a divorce do not possess the same coping skills for these stressful situations, which may lead to a relapse. Divorce and separation are emotionally difficult, however, this research sends a powerful message that human beings are far more resilient than we might think.

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FOR WOMEN: Are You a MILF or a MILM (Mother I’d like to Marry)

Child giving a kiss to his mother on the cheekWith the rate of American babies born out of wedlock continuing to climb, (it’s currently 44%) it has increased the number of single mothers on the mating market. In fact,  I’ve had a number of conversations lately with single mothers about the idea of getting married again. While plenty are happy to raise their kids alone, and prefer to keep a lover in a romantic compartment in their lives, others dream about being a real couple.

I happen to fall into the later camp, although I’ve long ago dumped the notion of a blended family. After I saw the chilling statistics about children and “steps,” I put my love life on hold. Sadly, one of the most dangerous places for a child to be is in a home with non-biologically related males. That includes mommy’s boyfriend, husband, or teen step brothers. These kids have eight times the rate of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. As I’m raising girls, I’ve decided that my nest will have to be nearly empty before I introduce some foreign testosterone into my household.

But I know that other single mothers are dating and hope to find love while raising kids. So, I have applied my intellectual mind to the study of what makes women marriageable. I have some real-world role models, too. Sherryl Walsh (no relation) had been a single mother of FOUR for ten years in 1975. That’s when she married her coworker, Neil Walsh, a single, child-free man of only 30. Sherryl was 36. Recently, Neil passed away, after 34 years of marriage — and when I called to offer some words of condolence, I also asked Sherryl for her advice. If a mother of four could find a great husband in 1975, she had to know something I don’t. Her advice was simple: Marry a good friend. Neil was a good friend from Sherryl’s office. Their friendship lasted almost 40 years. Sherryl, now I’m looking a little closer at my plumber, my agent (too young), and the guy who fluffs my latte at Starbucks. Because those are the guys I “work with.”

I also spoke with another MILM role model — astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s wife, Lois. I have met her a few times over the years at charity events, and one time I cornered her at a cocktail party and asked her how an unknown, middle-aged mother of three could snare one of the most eligible men on the planet (I didn’t use those exact words, though). Lois gave me some interesting advice. She talked about helping a man feel like a king in his own household. Some people say that Buzz, despite being the second man to walk on the moon, was all but forgotten until Lois got hold of his public image and put him back on the map. Her technique seems to be to make herself indispensable, and to remind him how valuable he is. I’ve always said, “Water what you’d like to grow. Not the weeds.” Lois seems to have watered his self-esteem, and man, did it bloom!

The research is clear. Men fall in love, not through sex, but through trust and loyalty. If you are a single mother and hope to become a MILM (Mother, I’d Like to Marry) then establishing a trusting friendship is the best strategy. It will also give you time to weed out the deceptive men whom you’ll learn are not so good for your children.

Which brings me to another topic. When I wrote a book called The Girlfriend Test: A Quiz for Women Who Want To Be a Better Date and a Better Mate, I interviewed 100 married or committed men and asked them why they chose the gal they were with, and why they didn’t marry the rest of us. Their answers were sometimes hard to hear. Despite the rumor that women are too needy, I more often heard from my interview subjects that women were “too independent.” When pressed for more details about what that meant, men couldn’t describe it well (they are the gender that excels in brawn. We are the gender that excels in words), except to say that they found themselves thinking, “What does she need me for?” Ya see, men like to be needed. Actually, all people like to be helpful and needed. But men feel really good when they can fix something.

And someday, my own nest will be closer to empty. So, for now you can wall me a MILM-in-waiting. LOL. I do believe that women can have it all, but not necessarily all at the same time.

For more watch: What a MILF Wants

FOR COUPLES: One Simple Thing That Can Save Your Marriage

o-MARRIAGE-facebookAll intimate relationships have conflict. The tricky part is learning how to fight like a champ. Because conflict has that sneaky way of piling up and either exploding or leaking out into all the happy areas of your life. But there’s one specific thing that you can do today to bullet proof your relationship. Replace stonewalling with an intention to understand.

If your home life is beginning to sound like the Bickersons and you’re best strategy is to duck or pass, then know this: The very worst way to deal with conflict is something that psychologists call “stonewalling.” Stonewalling happens when one partner feels overloaded by the other’s expressions of discord. These expressions may include, nagging, complaining, bickering and all–out-yelling. Unable to find a way to negotiate a peace treaty, the overwhelmed partner (often, but not always, the man) puts a complete embargo on communication. He (or she) either stares at the TV, gives one-word answers, changes the subject, or walks out the door. But withdrawing from communication is a sure fire ticket to divorce court. Eventually, the dismissed partner will find someone who will gladly listen, and that person may be a lover or a divorce attorney.

Of course, when someone is feeling engulfed and attacked, it can be very hard to suddenly counter with loving, rational communication. For some stonewalling is a natural fight or flight response. The first thing to do is acknowledge your feelings and explain them to your partner. Then make a plan with some ground rules and conflict strategies long before the next fight. Your rules might include, setting out specific times and places when you will be more open to uncomfortable communication — say, after the kids are in bed and never during the morning rush to get out the door. Then become aware of which words trigger your withdrawal. For instance, you might ask your partner not to blame or name call.

Finally, when you are in a situation where you want to check out as a defensive strategy, think like a champion boxer who understands his sparring partner. No boxer won a round by cowering. So, take a deep breath. Try not to react impulsively. And instead, think about why you fell in love with the person who is attacking. Remember that you are in the ring with a teammate, not an opponent. And instead of mounting a crazy defense, simply say, “I love you and I want to understand you.” That sentence alone can have a powerful, transformational effect on this bout.

FOR COUPLES: The Single Best Relationship Tip Ever

young-couple-holding-handsWhen couples are asked to name their biggest relationship problem, hands down, the most reported issue is communication. But there’s one simple trick that most couples’ counselors teach. It has helped save many a marriage and is called emotional mirroring.

The exercise goes like this. Couples sit face to face and hold hands. One partner talks about a relationship issue and the other listens intently and attempts to understand how the other must be feeling. This isn’t a game of who’s right and who’s wrong. Even if the facts don’t seem accurate, the partner who is listening must believe that the feelings associated with the partner’s memory of events are valid and real. After the partner finishes speaking, the listener repeats back in her or her own words what they think the partner is saying. Then they switch sides. The object of the exercise is to teach empathy for a partner’s experience, it is not to argue the facts.

When you try this for the first time, you might be really surprised to find that your partner didn’t hear you well, or translated your words into a totally different meaning! This is a great way to practice love and acceptance. To get you started, here are a few ground rules:

1. Arrange the time for emotional mirroring when there will be no distractions like children, phone or television.

2. Before you begin, hold hands, look into each other’s eyes and tell your partner you love them.

3. Toss a coin to determine who goes first and switch off each time you do the exercise.

4. The partner who shares first must try to not blame the other but instead focus on feelings and reactions to the other’s behavior. No name calling. No angry attacks. Keep voices calm.

Do this at least once a week and watch your relationship blossom into a loving, secure attachment.