Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

What does it mean when a partner is out of love

Friday, May 29th, 2015

It has been my experience that 20-25 percent of couples come into therapy with one or both feeling “out of love”. This is a difficult thing to say to your partner. Usually one person feels it more then the other.

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Why Couples Therapy for Unmarried Couples

Friday, April 17th, 2015

In an interview with New York Magazine this week, I was asked if most  couples I see in my office are married or not. I didn’t really think about this  much, but in preparation to this interview, I actually went through my case load and realized that although about 60% or so of my couples are married, about 40% are not. So why do unmarried couples come to therapy? As opposed to married ones?

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Making Small Changes Leads to Big Results

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

As a therapist, I often talk to clients about how we actually make changes to reach our goals. I think we underestimate the value and importance of small changes in our everyday life and how these small changes lead to success in a defining moment of reaching a goal.

British cyclist, Dave Brailford, who won the Tour de France who is now a General Manager and Performance Director for Britain’s professional cycling team coined a term “aggregation of marginal gains”. What this means is that we should strive for “1 percent margin for improvement in everything we do”. What he means is that if you improve every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, the small changes would add up to an amazing result. In regards to cycling he searched for small improvements in nutrition, training regime, ergonomics of the bike seat as well as things like getting the most and best sleep, getting the best massage gel, best way to wash hands to avoid infection. After years of implementing these small changes, his team ended up winning 70 percent of the gold medals available in 2012, including a member of this team being a winner of the race that year,  and, in 2013, another member of the team won Tour  de  France.

How does this relate to us? It is important to not overestimate the importance of making good decisions on daily basis and how this contributes to success. Every habit we have – good or bad- is the result of many small decisions over time. We do not think this way when we are striving to meet our goals. It is easy to convince oneself that change is only meaningful if there are big changes with visible results. Whatever our goals are, promotion at work, loosing weight, we think we need to make some big steps or sacrifices to get there. Improving 1 percent in several areas leading up to the goal is not notable or noticeable, but in the long run, can lead to success. And, the same works in reverse, according to Brailsford, but I suspect most of us already know that. All of us who are stuck in bad habits leading to bad results have a hunch that the result did not happen over night. The sum of many small choices, 1 percent here and there and eventually there is a bigger problem or a successful outcome.

How to Deal with Post-Holiday Blues

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

January 2 means holidays are over and time to get back to work, stress of deadlines, school, chores and “to do lists”, New Year resolutions, in short, REALITY.

Its a  kind of Post – Holiday Blues, I don’t want to call it depression, but for many its a slump. For many of us the social calendar is empty and the work one is full. The credit card bills will soon be arriving, reminding you of all the money you spent on gifts, etc.

You can try to change this “blah” perspective to a positive and productive one. Its time to think about doing all things you have been putting off because you are not preoccupied with all the year end stuff, such as gifts, travel, family obligations.

If you worry about feeling lonely and isolated during this time, have a dinner party, make plans to see people. Many of your friends, family and colleagues feel the way you do. reach out to friends and family and organize stuff, everyone will appreciate this, go see films, plays and concerts you had no time to indulge yourself with during December. Many, knowing about this slump actually plan trips in January and February.

You know you have been here before and it passes. As the months go forward and you weather the cold weather and snow storms, you know spring is coming and with it rebirth and new inspirations and good feelings.

Hang in there!

 

Why Holiday Blues and How To Beat It.

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Holidays are supposed to be a happy time, opportunity to relax, take time off work, possibility to be with family and friends, go on vacation… Then why so many of us are experiencing stress and even blues?

I would like to present some reasons for holiday blues as well as some ideas on how to cope or minimized stress and depression  during  holidays.

Holidays are stressful for many reasons: there are demands such as parties, shopping, entertaining, endless gifts, not to mention pressure to be happy. Many of us have unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others, some are not able to be with our family or friends for financial or other reasons, there is financial stress that comes from over-commercialization and feelings of duty and expectations. Many suffer from a mild depression in winter anyway due to limited light (seasonal affective disorder). Finally, for some of us, holidays are sad because of a recent loss due to death or a breakup. Even past losses become more intense during the holiday season as we think of being with those who are no longer here during this time. Holidays are a time when feelings of loneliness if they are there, become more intense.  Loneliness and loss are often at the root of all sadness and depression.

Here are some tips to help deal with holiday stress and depression:

– Don’t deny your feelings, feel them and acknowledge them. If you are going through a loss, or if there are reasons to feel sad, its OK. No one can force themselves to feel happy if they are not. Don’t put more pressure on yourself then you already feel.

– If you can, reach out. Think of everyone you may be able to connect with, go on a spiritual retreat or volunteer your time to help those who are in a much worse situation, this puts things in perspective quickly and makes you feel good that you were able to make someone else’s life better.

– Remember, holidays don’t have to be perfect every year. Every holiday season is different and its not helpful to compare. Life changes, families change, try not to hold on to past, but embrace what is now. If you are married or in a serious relationship, you may have to compromise this year and suck it up, go to your partner’s family and miss seeing yours. May be your best friend is not around this holiday, accept life as it is, do the best you can. If you are a couple with older married children, they may not be with you this holiday season, find a way to accept this and celebrate with those who ARE  around. Try to enjoy who you have around you, rather then dwell on who can not be with you now. This too may change next year.

– Many of us have financial stress during holiday time. Stick to a realistic budget. Don’t compare yourself with what others can spend.

– It’s a good idea to plan ahead in terms of shopping and entertaining. Last minute scrambling creates a lot of stress and takes whatever joy there is out of holiday season.

– Don’t abandon good self care habits like exercise, healthy eating, don’t use holidays as a reason to drink excessively,  get plenty of sleep. Say NO when its too much! Emotionally healthy living is a balance between caring for self and caring for others.

– Make sure you get some old sure proven activities in that make you feel good, whatever they may be. It can be as simple as watching a favorite movie, listening to music or curling up on a couch with a good book.

– Finally, if the sadness, blues or depression persist way after the holidays are over, may be its a good idea to seek professional help. This may be a full blown depression and it needs to be dealt with.

Let me know if you have other good tips or ideas so I can share them.

 

 

 

 

 

SOME THOUGHTS ON VALENTINE’S DAY

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Each year after Valentine’s Day many of my couples and individual clients come in expressing  disappointment. It takes many different forms.

Usually the woman complains about her man not being creative enough, thoughtful or in some ways not making the day special. Some men don’t do much of anything, some don’t do enough. The basic feeling a woman is left with is that she is not important enough, not special enough, taken for granted.

There also seems to be a sense that it is a man’s responsibility to make the day a special celebration of their relationship and typically the woman does nothing. Some of my male clients in relationships expressed a feeling that this is not fair.

In the meantime, all of my single clients, seem to feel terrible on this day, the day reminds them that they are alone and don’t have that special someone, seeing happy couples everywhere, men with flowers and chocolates and restaurants filled with couples dining….

Something is off with this picture.

COMMUNICATION PROBLEMS IN ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS

Monday, October 20th, 2014

I see new couples almost every week and the reason stated for coming to see me is “we have communication problems”. Even though each couples has a different story, the complaint is almost always the same. Why do so many couples have communication problems?

As I start to explore, the issue almost always is that though we usually speak the same language, we do not listen, we react from a defensive stance or offensive stance, we want to win the argument, have what we want.

Last night I had a young couple in my office, they are planning a very lavish wedding and their arguments have escalated since their most romantic engagement. Theirs is not a typical story with each set of parents striving for power and and control, money debates, etc. They are arguing about little things, there is so much anger that I can not stop them from interrupting each other, no one even listens to anyone, it is truly mind boggling…

At end of the session, they dropped another bomb, she wants a dog and he doesn’t. Both are frustrated with each other and angry, each feels the other wants control, rather then really listen to why she does and why he doesn’t and see if either point makes any sense to the other. Instead they each want what they want and are angry and resentful about the other without really hearing what is at the heart of the matter, which is that there is enough going on, the wedding, looking to buy an apartment, being childless and free in the city, traveling a lot, he feels that puppy would add undue stress and limit their possibilities. We did not really get to why she wants a dog now.

This argument is to be continued…..

GOOD ADVICE

Monday, October 20th, 2014

In recent New York Times, Style section, there was a post in Q&A section by Philip Gaines. This is a question and answer section and in my opinion Mr. Gaines is almost always on the money. He has great common sense, fantastic sense of humor with some irony and most of all  gives great advice. Reading his column is fun,sobering and refreshing.

One of the recent posts addresses sudden chemistry one feels running into an old crush from High School while shopping in a supermarket with  a spouse, a very domestic, unromantic activity and feeling a “sudden” spark with the “old flame”.  This predicament is happening to a male partner.  The question is what should he do with this?

The answer that Mr Gaines gives in short is: Nothing. He explains what I often tell my patients who are struggling with a crush, re-connection with someone from the past on Facebook, a sudden or growing attraction   towards a coworker or an old high school flame.  We  need to understand ( of course unless there is something terribly wrong between you and your current life partner partner) that this attraction is natural, many of us feel it at different times, while in committed relationships.This is a great feeling to have, it is  nostalgia for the romantic feelings from the past, sometimes our youth, but have nothing to do with what Mr Gaines calls “real life and more complex feelings for your real-life partner whom you love”.

This is a very real life predicament and one has to understand that in a long term relationship, many mundane moments are not “sexy”, but that these relationships offer  security, comfort, partnership, love, family and are at times also, hopefully “sexy”. You never know what happens between you and the “crush” after long term cohabitation when real life problems and day to day life intrude on the romantic excitement of a new infatuation.

DON’T WAIT TOO LONG…

Monday, October 20th, 2014

This week I saw several couples who needed to come in to see me urgently.  In my experience this usually means, something big happened that pushed things over the edge or one of the partners is done.

This is what happened.  In one case the male partner was fed up and wanted out after his girlfriend’s repeated indiscretions and in the other , the woman, after complaining for years and getting no response to her “nagging”,  finally gave up. This is usually a big surprise to the other partner who then immediately springs into action and is ready to do “what ever it takes”.

These situations are heart breaking to me as a human and as a therapist, because the “rejected” one is willing to do anything at this point to save the relationship, but it has been pushed the other way too much and for too long. They beat themselves up in my office about how and why they did not come to seek help sooner or at least pay attention to what was going on.

I do attempt to repair the tear, but usually it is too difficult to bring back the person who is done. These sessions are usually sad and end up in a break up in my office.

I wish I could convey to all my clients and people out there who are thinking whether they need help, please get help before it is too late.

DOES TECHNOLOGY HURT RELATIONSHIPS?

Monday, October 20th, 2014

I have been thinking about this question and I am thinking from my experience with many couples that if used sensibly, it may not be so harmful. Especially in long distance relationships, it is the only way to have some connection. At the end of the day its not enough.

Technology is responsible, for better or worse, for many infidelities being uncovered. Many of the couples who come to see me due to affairs are found out by a partner who observes excessive texting or emailing at inappropriate times.

It it especially troubling to me when people are texting during dinners with friends and family and even worse when it’s going on in front of young children.  This has to make them feel invisible and unimportant, but due to their young development, they can not communicate this to their caregivers.

I think its time to rethink and curb the use of technology as it has effect on human connection. More and more people choose to unplug and be more present when interacting socially or during “family time”.