Tag Archives: Psychology

FOR WOMEN: Why Men Stray And How to Prevent Cheating

It is estimated that 65% of divorces occur  because of an extra martial 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.

Secondly, men may find it easier to cheat because they feel less than woman. A Spanish study recently revealed that the interpersonal sensitivity of men (especially those aged between 25-33) is low compared to women. This clearly could affect a man’s ability to empathize with his partner. The study also showed that men feel less intense guilt and this difference is particularly stark in the 40-50-year-old age group, a group particularly vulnerable to the mid-life crisis affair.

Finally, more men fear emotional intimacy and more than do women. Believe it or not, some men find lovers so they can  avoid any real intimacy. Emotional closeness and the expression of vulnerability that goes with it scares many men, so they distance themselves from their wives by cheating on them. At the same time,  they don’t get too emotionally involved with their lovers. This kind of “watering down of the milk” feels safer to some men.

As always, my solution to bullet-proof relationships is to grow a bond through emotional intimacy. To make a relationship  rock-solid, one must move a step or two closer to the bone, and hone some relationship skills. Compassion can be learned. Fair-fighting is a skill. And stonewalling is a killer of all connection. Intimacy is not easy nor pain free. Extreme emotional intimacy and mutual care may involve squeamish feelings of shame, the forced expression of awkward words, an ability to see the ugly in others and still love them, and worse,  the ability to glaringly see the ugly in ourselves and still feel lovable. But the pay-back is pure kryptonite. An I’ve-got-your-back-if-you’ve-got-mine emotional contract that can make your relationship affair-proof.

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FOR WOMEN: Is Your Spouse Being Financially Unfaithful?

Man taking euros banknotes with stealthy expression.Does your spouse keep a separate safe deposit box? Do the family’s financial statements get mailed to an office address, not the home? Is he or she an ATM junkie? If so, there’s a chance your spouse could be stepping out on you with the family money. And this behavior is far more common with men than women.

It’s one thing to fear that your husband might stray with his heart and/or his body, but what most women don’t realize is that the risk of financial infidelity is far more dangerous and could lead to longer term consequences for women and their children.

“Most divorces are not impulsive decisions. One party or another checks out emotionally three to five years before they file for divorce,” says, Stacey Napp the CEO of Balance Point Funding, an investment firm that invests in women who have become financially disabled during a divorce proceeding. “Long before a man leaves, he begins to squirrel away assets so that he’ll hold the power in divorce court.” The behavior is more common with affluent husbands because, as a family’s net worth rises, couples tend to move into traditional gender roles, with the woman working less and handling more child rearing and household management chores. And if divorce happens these women are left unprotected. Since it is illegal in most states for a family attorney to work on a contingency (taking a percentage of the final settlement) the exit game becomes one where divorcing husbands strive to leave their wives with no assets to hire a good divorce lawyer — who may demand as much as $20,000 on the first visit.

“Divorce isn’t pretty, but it doesn’t have to be dirty,” says Napp, who founded her company after her own divorce and the financial infidelity she experienced that nearly cost her her entire lifestyle. According to Stacey Napp, there are six red flags that women should be on the alert for:

Is he being financially unfaithful?

1)      Your bank, brokerage or financial statements are sent to his office, and not to your  house
2)      You’re not the beneficiary of his life insurance policy
3)      Like clock work, the same amount of money is  being withdrawn from your joint account every month
4)      He has a separate safe deposit box
5)      Significant repeated cash withdrawals on your joint credit cards
6)      Does your husband own his own business and have his family as employees and/or partners in that business?  That alone isn’t a red flag, but if any of the above are also present- watch out!

So, if you do suspect trouble, is there anything you can do to stop the leakage? Yes, according to Napp, you have to act like your own forensic accountant and gather intelligence before he hides evidence from a real court. That may mean photocopying every document he ever brings home — including his entire wallet and briefcase. Since people stay in contact with their money, photocopy cell phone records, check frequent flyer miles, even the home telephone bill. Ever the financial sleuth, Napp says that calling fast food delivery restaurants in areas where phone calls have been made, can reveal what address goes with what number. And always, wives should request a once yearly free credit report from all three credit reporting bureaus. This report can contain information regarding financial institutions that he may have established relationships with that you were unaware of. It would also show any aliases and/or alternate social security numbers being used by your spouse.

With the enormous emotional pain that women experience during divorce, financial unfaithfulness adds another layer of injury. Injury that can have tragic consequences for children who might be yanked from school after losing tuition and women who many lose their home and community support system. Stacey suggests that women who are full-time mothers are especially vulnerable to this kind of infidelity.

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FOR WOMEN: Six Sexuality Facts That May Surprise MEN

Couple having sex - woman on topThe study of women’s sexuality is relatively new in the grand scale of research history, but now science is finding statistics about women’s sexuality that make most women say, “Duh.” Here are a few recent studies that might surprise some men:

1. Women tend to become aroused by erotica involving men, men and women, and just women, indicating a bisexual arousal pattern. This doesn’t mean women all behave in a bisexual manner. It simply means they can be turned on by both thoughts or images of both genders. This is different from most straight men who only become aroused by heterosexual erotica, and gay men who mostly become aroused by homosexual material.

2. Women’s brains can separate mental arousal from genital arousal. For instance, even if she is not mentally stimulated, a woman’s body can have a physiological reaction to sex. (Thus the confusion of some rape victims who experience a spontaneous orgasm during the trauma.) And women can sometimes be mentally aroused and have trouble becoming wet and wild down below.

3. Body image is connected to sexuality for women. Women who feel more positively about their own genitals find it easier to orgasm and are more likely to engage in sexual health promoting behaviors, such as having regular gynecological exams or performing self-examinations.

4. For women, physicality grows out of emotionality. Emotional availability activates their physical sexuality. Women are more apt to show up physically and sexually when their partner is emotionally present, while men tend more to just show up.

5. Women fear emotional infidelity more than physical infidelity and men fear the opposite. In one study women preferred that their husband see a prostitute once per week rather than have platonic, though intimate, lunches with a co-worker. This points to the fact that women fear a diversion of resources that might come with an emotional connection.

6. Women have less ability to have a stand alone physical relationship because their body releases oxytocin during orgasm. Oxytocin, the female bonding hormone, is also released during breastfeeding. For that reason women sometimes become bonded through sex even when they don’t mean to.

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Five Sex Myths That Keep Women Single

FOR MEN: The New Equality, Male Infertility

man and babyThe much maligned egg of a woman over 35. It’s been the target of criticism for so many years that most women can easily rattle off their chances of a having a down syndrome baby in relationship to their age. (1 in 2000 for a twenty-year-old, 1 in 100 for a forty-year-old.) But now the research lens is finally aimed at male fertility and viable sperm. Turns out, men need to consider their fertility window too.

In the last few decades there has been a huge increase in the numbers of older men fathering babies. In the 35-49 age group, in particular, there has been a 40% increase of new fathers. Delaying fatherhood to play the mating field may now have intergenerational consequences.

A US study,  published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Advancing age has differential effects on DNA change, chromatin integrity, gene mutations, and aneuplodies (chromosome abnormalities) in sperm” has shown that older men have higher chances of passing down genetic issues to their offspring. A French study backed up that finding, showing that infertility issues of men do indeed rise significantly after the age of 40.

Not only men who are waiting to have kids after the age of forty face fertility issues, but when they do successfully impregnate a woman, they have a higher chance of passing two specific gene disorders: schizophrenia and achondroplasia (commonly known as dwarfism.) The authors of the study,  Andrew Wyrobek from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Brenda Eskenazi from the University of California, School of Public Health, blamed the quality of a man’s sperm, which they say, quickly weakens after the age of 40.

Women who are holding out for an older, more successful man, might consider this. One study found that women, regardless of their age, who carry offspring of a man past forty. increase their risk of miscarriage.

Finally, one other US study gathered and examined ninety- seven samples of semen, all coming from men from the age range 22-80, who were not smokers. When looking over the samples, researchers found that the activeness and the movement of the sperm related with DNA fragmentation. The study concluded as well that not only do women have a biological clock, but so do men.

With research like this, suddenly the idea of being young enough to throw a ball with a child becomes less important than simply being young enough to father a healthy child.

 

FOR COUPLES: Expressing the “F” word: Feelings

Communication problemsWhile some people seem to express emotions easily, most people have to learn. Having emotional language skills is crucial to not only the relationships we have with others, but also the relationship we have with ourself. If we can’t name our feelings and share them, we are a long way off from being able to process them and use them in a healthful way. Having an honest emotional vocabulary is crucial to emotional intimacy, though this communication art is easier for some of us than others.

There’s a joke I make about men. I like to say that most of them act like they’re afraid to say the “F” word — FEELINGS. And  I’m not totally off base here. Men and boys are socialized to express less emotional communication and I think the are also biologically wired to have less emotional awareness than women. There’s even a diagnosis is the therapist’s bible of mental disorders, the DSM, called Alexithymia, which basically means an inability to connect feelings with words. In recent years a Harvard professor, Dr. Ron Levant came up with the phrase “normative male alexithymia” to describe how American males are culturally conditioned  to repress their vulnerable and caring emotions, causing them to become underdeveloped in emotional expressiveness.

But a fear of talking about feelings is an equal opportunity affliction. Since feminism gave way to the no-rules relationship revolution, an age where emotions are less and less risked, many women have followed the example of men. I would venture to say that women’s greatest assets — an awareness of emotions and verbal skills — have been abandoned by too many of our gender.

The solution? To delve into the the squeamish sea of honest communication that focusses on personal feelings rather than points fingers at others.  One of the reasons this is a challenge for some is that this important skill was neither taught nor modeled by our parents. Parents of the 1960’s more often practiced critical parenting rather than emotionally intimate parenting. Critical parenting sounds like this: Johnny you are a messy boy! Look at that disgusting room. No TV for you, bad boy! Emotionally Intimate parenting sounds like this: Johnny, I feel angry when I have to clean up your mess and I want you to feel proud of your room, so I’m going to help you become neater by saying a clean room means a reward of TV. See the focus on feelings, in this case anger and pride, with a positive reward instead of shame as the behavior shaper.

So, assuming that you were parented in the more common, critical way, here’s a crash course in how to use emotional language to grow intimacy in all your relationships. First of all, in every communication, try to identify your own feelings and express them as a reaction to someone’s behavior rather than an assault on their behavior. People get less defensive when they hear the words, “I feel” than when they hear “You are.”

Having trouble labeling that uneasy feeling in your stomach? Here’s Dr. Walsh’s handy dictionary of the most common feelings people express. I like to call them the twenty power words of emotional intimacy. Next time you tell a story to someone, add your emotional experience by saying “I feel,” followed by one of these words: Nervous, Happy, Sad, Angry, Disappointed, Hopeful, Ignored, Embarrassed, Envious, Jealous, Lonely, Excited, Surprised, Proud, Scared, Guilty, Aroused, Uncomfortable, Rejected, Loved.

This kind of language will open the door to the most tender parts of your psyche and help you become more accessible and ultimately more lovable. It will also model skills for others, including your kids. Yes, even your sons. Using emotional language is a bit terrifying at first, but trust me, it can enrich all your relationships. “I feel” quite confident about this.

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How to Communicate and Be Heard