Tag Archives: husbands and wives

MEDS

I recently attended therapy workshop by Dr. David Burns.  Dr. Burns’ book, The Feeling Good Handbook describes a type of therapy that is very similar to what I use with my clients.  The Feeling Good Handbook is a long time New York Times bestseller.  Dr. Burns was for many years a researcher and professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania.  He is now a visiting professor of psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine.  Many of the therapy topics that David Burns addresses are also addressed in my book, Perfect Circle.  Even though he is a psychiatrist, Dr. Burns has always been somewhat cautious about the use of anti-depressant medications.  In The Feeling Good Handbook he recommended using some anti-depressant medications for short periods of time (up to six months) but then suggested going off of them.  He has always felt that the cognitive behavioral therapy as outlined in his books was a superior and safer alternative to medications.  I pretty much say the same thing in my book Perfect Circle in chapter “D” of the ISLAND acrostic.  That chapter is “Deal with depression and anger”.  I believe that anti-depressant medications can be helpful but they should be monitored closely by a psychiatrist if they are going to be used.  My main argument is that they are generally safe or you could not have 200 million prescriptions written ever year, and they seem to work dramatically with a small number of my clients.

At the therapy workshop, Dr. Burns was much emphatic that anti-depressant medications are not any better than placebo (sugar) pills.  That is quite a statement for a psychiatrist to make.  He bases much of his argument on the work of Irving Kirsch and his book, The Emperor’s New Drugs.  Kirsch’s main point is that the drugs don’t really help more than placebo.  Both Burn’s and Kirsch argue for empirically based therapies for people with depression.  This is certainly worth considering.

Date Night or Coffee Meeting?

coffee-shop

Reading today’s blog will save you some money.  If you and your spouse go to a weekend marriage seminar that seminar will be structured in such a way as to have some kind of a “date night”.  This will not be your average date night however; it will be at a nice restaurant and you will dress nicely but there will be “instructions” which be to discuss matters of the heart.  These discussions will be related to the material in the seminar.  Probably not what you did on your last date together! Sometimes the couples who go out on these “dates” end up having arguments, but the hope is that the public setting and the muted atmosphere will keep these fights to a minimum.  In general, the need for a nice date is important for a couple.  Even more important is the need to talk – really talk about all kinds of things.  Not just relationship issues, but budget matters, how the kids are doing and what’s on the calendar.  Really, those topics and touchy topics like parenting, money or even sex are NOT good to talk about on a date.  The dates that I enjoy with my wife are usually light and breezy and FUN.  Couples need fun.  Yet, your wife needs to talk and you NEED to hear what she has to say.  So, date nights often have cross-purposes.  When a couple goes out dressed up for dinner, they can look really nice.  The kids may be quite impressed at how attractive mom is when she not in that faded tee shirt, but if that couple has different expectations of what that dinner is about then it will not be a pretty sight when they return.

Speaking of expectations, this is a crucial issue.  The wife may expect intimate conversation about matters of the heart, while the husband wants to keep it light with hope that they may be able to have some fun in the bedroom later.  It’s a disaster!  The funny thing is that both the husband and wife are right to have their expectations.  Both good times and deep conversations are important to having a successful marriage.  It was Robert G. Barnes in his excellent book, Rock Solid Marriage, that astutely observed that women often view conversation as a pre-cursor to sexual intimacy, and it was Pat Love in her excellent book, How to Change your Marriage Without Saying a Word, who astutely observed that men view touch and physical proximately as a pre-cursor to sexual intimacy. You see where this is going.  You need both in a marriage.

So save yourself the money from expensive therapy and weekend seminars and do TWO THINGS:  Have a weekly morning coffee time to discuss anything that your wife would like to discuss.  Do NOT get defensive about what she has to say and do not feel that you have fix every problem she brings up.  She needs to talk and you need to listen.  Start there.  Second, take your wife on a date and sit close.  Go dancing or just have fun and make contact with each other.  Hold hands.

For a couple of years now, my wife and I have been going out to a nice coffee shop on Thursday morning and having good conversations.  We sometimes bring a list of stuff we need to talk about.  Sometimes the talk is serious and many times it is simply mundane. We have so much fun, really, so much fun that date nights are less important.  Coffee meetings cost about 10 bucks.  You do the math.  Consider the cost of the alternative.

TUESDAY TURN IT AROUND TIP # 1 of TEN

Happy-Couple (3)

I am starting a new series of Tuesday blogs.  This series will provide ten transformative tips, each and every Tuesday to help you turn your marriage around.  I will also use words that start with t whenever I can.  So please check this blog every Tuesday.

The first tip to transform your marriage is to think more highly of your wife.  I am not joking when I say that successful marriages are ones in which the spouse thinks they got the better end of the deal.  There is even research to support the idea that people are more satisfied in marriage when they feel they have “married up”.  If you want to turn your marriage around – begin see your wife as better than yourself.  Notice all the good qualities that attracted you to her in the first place.  Even if you say you don’t love your wife now – you most likely still have a lot of things for which you respect her.  Dwell on these things.  A fundamental rule is that we treat people in accordance with how we feel about them.

My daughter once shook hands with President Obama and she also sat at a dinner table with Henry Kissinger.  In both cases she was excited about the encounters even we if we are talking about wildly different ends of the political spectrum (you young guns can look up Kissinger, but he was “the man” at one point).  My point is that it is the person’s position that calls for the high evaluation.  Now here is the 64 thousand dollar question.  What is a higher position than that of your wife?  If her position as your wife it is not a high one, it is because you made it so.

Look at it this way.  Either her marriage to you has made her more beautiful, lovely and holy with each passing day so that it is easy to remind yourself:  “I am so lucky to be married to someone as beautiful as her”.  Or, her marriage to you has been filled with hardship and a generally rough time, so that is easy to remind yourself:  “I am so lucky that she stayed with me and puts up with me”.  In either case you married up.  Loving her and consistently treating her as better than yourself will transform your marriage.

Bible verse to meditate on: Philippians 2:3

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”  (ESV).

Motivation song to listen to:  Child of the wind by Bruce Cockburn.

Where he sings, “I love my sweet woman down to the core.”