Archive for October, 2014

Controversy: Animals And TVs In The Bedroom!

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

This is a controversial subject for many couples. You may become defensive or, perhaps, vindicated by the perspective offered in this offering. After listening to couples, and serving as a mediator, for thirty years as a Marriage and Family therapist, I have a strong recommendation to make that will upset many of you.

Ok, here’s the recommendation.  Do not allow animals or televisions in the bedroom.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times this issue has been brought up in marriage counseling. It is an argumentative issue!

The mail reason for this recommendation is that it blocks intimacy, communication, and connection.    AND it causes hurt feelings or rejection or sanctifies couples living as “roommates”, not being spousal partners – with at least a hint of romance and sensual connection. I’m afraid some of you are thinking, ”yep, that’s the point”, so what?” If that is your preference, have at it.

I have heard a jillion upset spouses discuss this topic.  Many a husband and, surprisingly, some women object to a cat or dog being in the bedroom.  Often a spouse, usually the husband, has said, “I feel second, or third” to the dog/cat”. This is not a good feeling! (I believe the goal is that your marriage partner, needs to be number one in your life – or at least co-equal to your kids emotionally and behaviorally).

People love their animals – and they should, within reason. BUT, they are animals – and your spouse is higher on the evolutionary chain – and is your life partner – therefore that relationship should be the higher priority. Thus, please keep your beloved pets out of the bedroom. Now if you do not like such an admonition look deep in your heart and tell me why you object – if you do.

Television in the bedroom is a bit trickier and challenging. It’s tough to argue against the two of you, at different times getting comfy – in your negligee and boxer shorts, respectively – and watching a TV show that you might possibly agree on.  Good luck on that!  Or, one spouse may choose to read while the other person watches a show. The net result of this style, however, is another way to avoid, block, any sensual connection or wonderful “pillow talk”.

Another related scenario.  Here’s what I hear from many couples. One person, usually the husband is watching FOX news and ranting about politics. The wife is usually bored with this and goes to bed to read or watch the stimulating Desperate Housewives. A little later her husband comes to bed. He wants to cuddle, or more, but she either fakes being asleep or still very into the program. He harrumphs and angrily turns over and fumes.

Believe me this is the reality of way to many disconnected couples. You may change the gender or

the TV show, but you will not change the fact that the TV is blocking more meaningful “pillow talk”, snuggling, and occasional sensual encounter.

Okay, how many of you are going to hide this article so your spouse won’t see it? Perhaps you will send me a nasty email for suggesting that your bedroom be animal and TV free. Or, might some of you validated individuals leave the article on the kitchen table and perhaps send a “high five” message to me?

A side note to this recommendation.  Many of you have difficulty getting to sleep.  This is another reason to not have an animal or TV in the bedroom.  The bedroom is for sleep and couple connection. Ask any of the professional sleep consultant for confirmation of this.

This article may serve as an occasion for a meaningful spousal dialogue about bedroom bedtime. Do you go to bed together? Is it a time when you can end the day in each other’s arms, appreciating that you have this life partner?  If such appreciation and closeness does not exist, why not?  An opportunity to address this emptiness?

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

Your Age Affects The Way You Perceive Yourself In The World

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

When I counsel clients/patients I begin with trying to understand how they perceive themselves, their relationships, and other pertinent areas of concern for them. Your perception is your reality. Your brain development, particularly in the right brain where emotions reside, and the developmental stage you are in, provide a good starting point toward problem resolution and optimal functioning. Age is primary in this. Your age affects the way you perceive events.

David Brooks recently wrote a thought provoking article in the New York Times in which he stereotyped each age from the twenties to the eighties. I will share this with you, adding my own comments along the way.  No matter what age you are I believe you will get some insight from Mr. Brooks’ observations.

The 20’s: “You should regard yourself as an Ayn Randian Superman who is the architect of the wonder that is you. This is the last time of your life that you will find yourself truly fascinating, so you might as well take advantage of it. … This sense of possibility will unleash feverish energies that will propel you forward.” The 20’s person often is brimming with confidence, albeit often naively, how s/he will be awesomely successful.  Some reality checks have not yet surfaced.

The 30’s and 40’s: “You begin to think like a political scientist.  You’ll have a lower estimation of your own power and a greater estimation of the power of the institutions you happen to be in.  You’ll still have faith in your own skills, but it will be more the skills of navigation, not creation. You’ll adapt to the rules and peculiarities of your environment. … You’ll understand that the crucial question isn’t what you want, but what the market wants.” Ah, reality.  This is a time of a more deepened understanding of who you are and what kind of life you want to live. Significant changes of course take place here as you try to max out what is possible in combining a personal and professional life that is satisfying.

The 50’s and 60’s: “You will become a sociologist, understanding relationships are more important than individuals.  … You will find yourself in the coaching phase of life, enjoying the dreams of your underlings.  Ambition, like promiscuity, is most pleasant when experienced vicariously.  You’ll find yourself thinking back to your own mentors, newly aware of how much they shaped your path. Even though the emotions of middle-aged people are kind of ridiculous, you’ll get sentimental about the relationships you benefitted from and the ones you are building.” Having accomplished your dreams or realizing that they are no longer attainable, you look more closely at your primary relationships and assess whether some form of modification needs to take place to bring more happiness into your life.

The 70’s and 80’s: “You’ll be like an ancient historian.  Your mind will bob over the decades and then back over the centuries, and you’ll realize how deeply you were formed by the ancient traditions of your people. … You’ll be struck by the astonishing importance of luck, the fact that you took this bus and not another, met this person and not another.” A person’s enculturation from times past has an unbelievable impact on life choices and directions. More on this topic in a forthcoming article.  I am fascinated by this reality.

Respected Reader, I invite you to look at what age you are and to what degree the above descriptions fit your life. Mr. Brooks writes for a relatively intellectual constituency and, surely, “one shoe does not fit all”, but it would be interesting to know if a part of the “shoe fits”. This article is another one in my quest to encourage you to reflect on your life and determine where you are, have been, and where you want to go. Because….

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

Where Are You On The Emotional Guidance Scale?

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

I am a seeker of truth. Truth to the extent that I am able to grasp it.  It is a personal quest not found in any hand-me-down belief system. “The truth shall set you free”. Socrates has stated that the “unexamined life is not worth living”.  I believe that for myself, and perhaps it is a beckoning call for you as well. To live at your highest level you need a certain consciousness level, an awareness of where you are on life’s journey and what your contribution to the world’s expansion can be. A friend recently sent me an “emotional guidance scale” taken from the website WeDharma. I find it valuable as an assessment vehicle. See where you are in developing the fullness of positive emotional energy.

I begin here with the lowest category for self assessment, quality living, and work up to the highest.

22. Fear/Grief/Depression/Powerlessness/Victim.

21. Insecurity/Guilt/Unworthiness.

20. Jealousy.

19. Hatred/Rage.

18. Revenge.

17. Anger.

16. Discouragement.

15. Blame.

14. Worry.

13. Doubt.

12. Disappointment.

11. Overwhelmed.

10. Frustration/Irritation/Impatience.

9. Pessimism.

8. Boredom.

7. Contentment.

6. Hopefulness.

5. Optimism.

4. Positive Expectation/Belief.

3. Enthusiasm.

2. Passion.

1. Joy/Knowledge/Empowerment/Freedom/Love/Appreciation.

Needless to say this is a fluid process. There may be times that you are experiencing every one of these emotions, but usually there is an area that you usually fit. One of my favorite sayings is “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there”.  Hopefully this assessment tool will give you a better sense of where you usually are and a sense of direction as to where you might want to go.

Do You Know Which Of The “Five Love Languages” Is Yours? Your Partners?

Friday, October 10th, 2014

“THE FIVE LANGUAGES OF LOVE” is a classic book, having sold over seven million copies.  It is a perennial New York Times bestseller.  It has been translated into more than forty languages. It has had a significant impact on couples’ awareness, communication, and bonding.  The author of the book is Dr. Gary Chapman, a noted Marriage and Family Therapist.  Dr. Chapman wrote this book because he noticed a pattern in the people he counseled.  He said everyone had a “love language” for expressing and interpreting love. He broke these languages down to five primary ways that couples show love to one another.

I will list the five languages with a brief description of each.  As you read each one see which one best fits the way you would like to give and receive love.

  1. WORDS OF AFFIRMATION:  You want to hear the words “I love you” and other unsolicited compliments. The various affirmations give substance to the “I love you” statements.
  2. QUALITY TIME: The “I love you” message means full undivided attention.  You want to spend quality time together, being truly present to one another.
  3. RECEIVING GIFTS: “I love you” is expressed by the thoughtfulness and effort put into the gift. Special occasions are marked by such efforts consistently shown.
  4. ACTS OF SERVICE: “I love you” is valued in the activities that are done to assist, ease the burden of responsibilities, of the loved one. Going the “extra mile” is highly valued.
  5. PHYSICAL TOUCH: “I love you” is best expressed in hugs, thoughtful touches, holding hands, and other various sensual connections. Physical presence and accessibility are starting points.

Respected Reader, what did you come up with?  What is the way you best like to be loved and what is the best way you prefer to show your love? All of the above have value, but some are more important than others. You may want to rank them in matter of importance and have your significant other do the same. Sharing your respective preferences could be interesting and enlightening!

The “love languages” are another opportunity to know yourself and your partner better. How can you go wrong by learning more about LOVE and how to express and receive it!

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved in return”                                                             From “Unforgettable with love” by Natalie Cole

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates