Thursday, February 17, 2011

Open Letter Concerning Pre-Marriage Counseling

"My wife and I didn't need premarital counseling.

"You see, we were special. We rarely fought. In fact, we loved everything about each other—right down to the silly little quirks others might find annoying. Plus, we were madly in love! Maybe counseling was necessary for those other couples—the ones that didn't love each other as much as we did. But we were fine. The intensity of our affection was more than enough to carry us through the challenges of married life.

"Unfortunately, my future in-laws failed to grasp our exceptional status; they insisted on two months of counseling before we walked down the aisle.

"I'm glad that they did. It turned out we weren't so unique after all. In counseling we unearthed differing expectations and caught a helpful glimpse at some of the challenges of living together. We discovered invaluable relationship skills that came in handy, especially once the euphoria of new love began to fade. Turns out everyone needs premarital counseling."

Premarital Counseling is designed to help you reflect on counseling goals, learn creative exercises, and consider the "touchy" situations of marriage with resources. Call the Relationship Clinic before taking another step.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

In an Affair? ... Now What?

It started innocently enough. You connected on FaceBook with an old boyfriend or girlfriend (isn’t technology wonderful?) — or started meeting regularly for lunch or drinks with a colleague from the office. You felt the chemistry, but you weren’t going to act on it. And since “nothing” was going on, you didn’t need to tell your spouse. But now you can’t deny it any longer. Whether your relationship has become physical or remains technically just a friendship, you know that you are in deep. You don’t want to hurt your spouse, but you are sure that ending your affair would break your heart.

At times like these, it can help to know something about human nature. When people feel intense emotions, the parts of their brains that process emotions become more active. Meanwhile, the logical parts of their brains remain relatively inactive. The result? People find ways to make sense of, and support, their emotional state; and it’s incredibly difficult to challenge this emotionally driven thinking.

When someone is having an affair, this kind of thinking intensifies the passion of their new love while also magnifying the inadequacies of their spouse, or their current “real” life. They can try to argue with themselves about how they shouldn’t feel as they do and how pursuing the affair is not a good idea, but that approach usually leaves them feeling a stronger “need” to pursue it. Still, the guilt about doing this can also be overwhelming.

So, if you are caught in this dilemma, what can you do? The first step is to fully acknowledge it. Trying to pretend that a budding love doesn’t exist, or isn’t that strong, will only send your awareness of it underground; where it will influence you without your even realizing it. You will likely find yourself the victim of a surprise attack; I was avoiding her and was okay with that, but then she needed my help with something, and, well… The next thing you know, you are thinking this must be fate. If, instead, you admit to your feelings and look squarely at the problem, you can begin to address it.

Addressing it means, in part, admitting that your thinking is clouded by strong emotions. With this acknowledgment, you are choosing to lead with your head and not your heart. You can consider your values and at least try to correct for the bias of your emotionally driven thinking. This doesn’t mean ignoring your emotions, but rather considering them with the perspective of what’s best for you in the long run. Remember, after all is said and done, after your heart’s fluttering has subsided, you will need to be able to wake up every morning with the results of your actions — so consider them carefully.

Think about your marriage vows and how important they are to you. Think about the effects of continuing an affair on your thoughts and feelings about yourself, as well as on your spouse, children, new love, and anyone else involved.

Many people want to savor their new love, but still have strong incentives to work on their marriage. They want to strive to be happy again with their spouse, not disrupt their lives (for themselves and their children), and do the right thing. But they also ultimately want to be assured of having romantic love in their lives if their efforts at reviving their marriage fail. The dilemma is understandable. However, holding onto both relationships simply does not work. It can’t. Honestly working on a relationship means giving yourself wholeheartedly to it.

[by Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD,]

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Is your HDL helping or hurting your risk for Alzheimer’s disease?

You probably know that having high levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol has been associated with a reduced risk for heart disease, but did you know that it may also reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s disease?

A study published in the December 2010 issue of the Archives of Neurology found that having high levels of HDL (defined as a level greater than 55) is associated with lower risk for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

This is great news! But what can you do if your HDL is low? Here are 5 very simple things you can do to increase your HDL, and they will boost your brain function at the same time. How cool is that?
  1. Get moving. Regular aerobic or interval exercise can increase your HDL in as little as two months. I recommend Burst Training, which is a form of interval training that is so simple anyone can do it. You can find a Sample Burst Training workout in my upcoming book The Amen Solution.
  2. Lose weight. Even dropping a few pounds has been shown to boost HDL levels. If you need help shedding the extra weight, then you’re going to love the new program I’m going to be introducing soon. It will hold your hand through the process and help you every step of the way.
  3. Quit smoking. Duh. Smoking lowers your HDL and constricts blood flow to the brain.
  4. Pump up your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating more wild salmon, walnuts, DHA-enriched eggs, and avocados can increase HDL, as can taking an omega-3 supplement.
  5. Go low-glycemic. Eating too many refined carbohydrates and simple sugars can lower HDL. Stick with complex carbohydrates that are low-glycemic and high in fiber.
[from Amen Clinics