COVID — A Catalyst for Counseling

GoslingsTHERAPY CAN’T SOLVE A PANDEMIC. Right? So why seek counseling when our lifestyles are in chaos? The danger of contamination and illness is real. Some leaders focus on resuscitating the economy, some leaders are envisioning a universal health plan. Certainly, having a rigorous public health system that provides oodles of testing, tracking of those exposed to the virus, and investigating a vaccine is paramount. Psychotherapy definitely adds strength to the tapestry of health care. How?

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Can Couple Counseling Really Help?

Couples go through many stages of life. An unexpected change could be reason for therapy. Imagine a young couple, both about 23 and one had to precipitously leave their apartment. Due to the dearth of decent housing, Jere (not their actual name) moved into Jana’s apartment. Jana, a physics major, and Jere, a graphic artist, came together with love, passion, and optimism. They had no idea how to squeeze a fun, easy-does-it relationship into a studio apartment. How did the merger go? The bicycle helmets got in the way of the laundry baskets. Shoes got kicked around, and worse. Making love wasn’t a romp when Jana’s perched coffee cup spilt over Jere’s computer.

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Marriage Happiness & Weight Gain

Why do women put on weight after they get married? I have recently had some clients moan about their extra pounds. This can be depressing but it’s common.

Marriage Appetite

Marriage Appetite

In the first 10 years of marriages women in the US happily married gain an average of 37 lbs., while those unhappily married gain 54 lbs. So choose your food and your mate wisely.

Over 6,000 Australian women were studied by Professor Annette Dobson. The 10-year weight gain for a married woman was 15 lbs if she had a partner but not a child, and 20 lbs. if she was married with a baby. Marriage is linked to increased BMI (body mass index) for men and women of all ethnic groups. In North Carolina a study found that married men and women in their early 20s gained 6-9 more pounds than single peers. Continue reading

What If I’m Not Married before 40?

silo girlsunHow do you know what is the best time in your life plans to get married? Many couples come to marriage therapy exploring this crucial question. Is this partner the right choice? Many people are ready to get married, but are not prepared to stay married. What’s the difference? Getting married is the romance and the sharing of your life up to that point. You are attracted to each other, and as my mother used to say, “He (or she) is a good catch.” Staying married is where couple counseling can help. Do you have the skills to move thorough the ups and downs of life; how do you make major decisions together; what about the first (second and third) huge fight?  The median age of women and men getting married for the first time is now 27 and 29, respectively. That compares to a median age of 20 for women and 23 for men in 1960, according to the Pew Research Center. Continue reading

Working Through Problems, It Takes Work

Solving Problems Together

Solving Problems Together

How can couples work through their problems?

To make a commitment to another person is more than a business contract. Whether you are legally married or involved in a serious relationship, it takes attention and work to make decisions. Where will you live? How much money do you need? How do you pay the bills and divide the tasks of living together? Will you raise children together? What holidays will you celebrate together? For a couple who is forming into marriage or living together, who will be your family, or your ‘peeps.’ Continue reading

Super Care with Divorce

The US laws should declare 2 types of divorces. I believe Divorce between 2 people is completely different than a divorce that involves kids. TunnelLet’s call it super-divorce. Superdivorce is two adults separating with kids dragged unwillingly into the upheaval. Legal problems, property, housing, money should not be a child’s problem. Swearing, demeaning comments, blaming the other parent is so typical in divorces. Does any child benefit from hearing “Idiot!” “Slut!” or “You’re a loser, no one could live with you.”? Adults don’t even want to hear it; but those words sear hotly into a child’s psyche. Continue reading

HELP. We’re Breaking Up

HELP. I’m Breaking Up with my Boyfriend

When a pair of lovebirds break up, expect pain, blushing, and anger. It’s a bust. The deal is broken. Your heart is raw, stabbed with razor thoughts. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAImagine you go to a party and you see your Ex- dancing with someone else. That adoring look she gives him used to be for you. Don’t spas out. Of course you’re upset when he leaves you. Maybe you can’t go to that school reunion, because you are furious at the guy. Maybe he fathered your child and then forgot to get a job to pay for the child. (The term sperm-donor is said with hissing disdain from single moms who speak in my family counseling office.) Continue reading

Is having an Affair, …fair?

Committed couples sail through life’s high seas, some smoothly and some roughly. Except for a few eccentric eddies in the stream, most people adhere to the moral code of monogamy with their spouse. The creed of most Americans is to have one sexual OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERApartner at a time. But the fact is, another sexual partner may lurk below deck. More than other martial arguments, an affair rocks the boat violently. The marriage is stranded ashore, shipwrecked, or goes immediately into the repair dock. Marriage therapists are the mechanics when your relationship is struggling with multiple sexual relationships.

Few fixed statistics show how often affairs occur. The nature of affairs prevents honesty. (What respectable father who talks to his son about the ‘facts of life’ would admit to sleeping around?) Is an affair dishonest when nobody knows about it? Social scientists say grossly that about a third of married men and a fifth of married women have had an affair, a lover, a paramour. Within the US, about 1 in every 2.7 couples is touched by infidelity. (p. 1 Abrahms Spring, 2012)

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Therapy Soothes and Challenges

I love my work, and I know this work delves deep into who I am. When I first started to do counseling with couples, I studied complicated techniques like Milton Ericson’s hypnosis, and Virginia Satir’s work on anxiety that burrows inside your body. I watched in amazement 15 years ago as trauma was eliminated with EMDR (Eye Movement Reprocessing by Shapiro). I then studied with Judith Herman who wrote “the Book” onSueSerena healing after acute trauma. One never gets bored with the study of family therapy. Consider these requests by parents:

  • “Can you cure children suffering from enuresis?”
  • “What happens when my partner uses spyware on my computer?”
  • “When I suspect Janelle’s using drugs and she denies it, should I sureptiously read her journal?”

It is my pleasure to help families, but I don’t take credit for curing the problem. Therapy can help make crushing schedules more bearable; realign the meridians of power among parents and children; get parents paddling in synch instead of rowing against each other. The stress level and complicated after school activities packs in too many expectations. Headaches and stomachaches can give cues as to whether stress is high. In therapy I deal with the irritating pebble in the shoe, and the chaos of flashbacks. Plus I now know how much the work is helping myself. The old adage says, “You teach the subject that you most need to learn.”

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