La Coop P.A.- General and Forensic Psychiatry - Boutique-Private Psychiatric and Forensic Practice in Tampa-Clearwater-Florida


October, 2010

Special Relationship Issue

I love October! One of the most important days of my adult life (my wedding anniversary), my husband's birthday, and my FAVORITE holiday is in October.

Speaking of my wedding anniversary makes me think of all of the work that I do with couples and relationships. Not only marriages, but just intimate relationships. No matter if you're just dating and want to get engaged, or if you've been married for over 20 years - everyone needs help sometimes with the ins and outs.

In this issue I'm going to talk with you guys about some misconceptions about relationships and some little tricks that I've used with some patients to help them on their way.

See you soon!
Dr. L

So, are marriages really doomed to fail?1

There is a lingering statistic out there that 50% of marriages are doomed to fail. This is false. The fact is that relationships are starting later, and they are more stable. In 2008, 40% of marriages ended in divorce. So, it's not as grim as people out there make it out to be. Your relationship isn't a sensational news story or on reality TV. It's not a fantasy land either - it requires work. Now, let's get to it...

Little things you can do to make your relationship stronger

  • Make the commitment. A lot of you know about my relationship with my husband and the fact that we've just told one another that divorce is NOT an option. If it's an option, when the going gets tough - the wimpy bail out! We've had enough bail outs lately, people. Let's get real.
  • You are one person. What I mean by this, is that when you become a couple, you're no longer making decisions for yourself only. It's not what's best for YOU, it's what's best for US. If you keep the mindset that when you're hurting this person, you're actually hurting yourself - it changes the perspective. This the basis for empathy.
  • Communication is key. You can't have a solid relationship without getting to know one another. It's not just about asking "how was your day?" Then not listening as your spouse goes on an on about the ins and outs of their day. Get to know the whys behind the whats.
  • Physical Connection is essential. I once had a wise patient tell me, "sex is the most important 5% of a relationship." I believe that. I also, had another patient tell me, "I would rather my wife not do chores or cook if we could just have sex at least once per week." Needless to say, these were both thoughts from men, but they are valid. Women think that we can make up for sex with making the home nice and running errands. We complain that guys don't help enough around the house. The reality is, guys help out more when they believe that they are valued. Their value = having sex regularly with their wife. When women get back into that swing - they notice the benefits as well. It's good all around. Time just needs to be made for it.
  • Spouses need to have defined roles. As I was interviewing a very cute old couple in the hospital I asked them what the key to their marriage was and they said, "We both have jobs and we don't step on one another's toes." Just as kids do well with structure, couples do well with structure. Also, remember, a child's mental model of what a couple should be like is watching their parents. It's not "the woman is in the home and the man works outside of the home." Most women work outside of the home, and then end up doing all of the chores inside the home as well. Split the chores and don't deviate from those roles. This will free up for more communication time, as well as, physical connectivity time (*hint guys).
  • Resolve past issues. This is a tough one! We all have been there, the argument that's about not putting the laundry away that goes back 20 years to speak about the time when the other did something "wrong." However, issues don't get resolved when someone ends the argument because they don't want to talk about it anymore. Just as we talked about in our apology newsletter (go back to my website archive in the August Newsletter if you forgot it) the final step to a valid apology is to state that you will NEVER do it again. It's the same thing with arguments. Do a root cause analysis. What is the argument about and how do I resolve it? To get to that, you're going to have to talk about it.

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